The Environmental Protection Agency is stripping the states of their authority, and money, through a series of unfunded mandates, the Chamber of Commerce said in a new study released Wednesday.
"Instead of being the system of cooperative federalism that Congress intended, the current relationship between the Environmental Protection Agency and the states has become one-sided, with the federal government imposing its will," William Kovacs, the Chamber's senior vice president for environmental and regulatory affairs, said following the study's release.
The study showed that states' work is increasing to comply with a "myriad" of EPA rules, while federal grants designed to help the states comply are decreasing.
The study said states must implement 96.5 percent of all federal environmental programs, while federal grants to states fund 28 percent of the amount needed to run the programs.
"EPA and the Obama administration have introduced some of the most expensive regulations in our country's history, and then left state and local officials with the tab," Kovacs said.
In the last year alone, the EPA began implementing major rules regulating everything from the electric sector, land and water use through the contentious Waters of the U.S. program, and ozone rules that place a limit on development on a county-by-county, city-by-city basis, the report pointed out.
"A heavy burden of implementing and enforcing these regulations fall to state governments with little financial help," according to the Chamber.
The report also found that federal grants to assist states fell 29 percent between 2004 and 2015, while the cost of EPA's mandates rose 35 percent.
The study is part of an eight-part series detailing the effects of federal regulations on the nation.
Meanwhile, environmental groups are readying a campaign to defend the regulations beginning in the fall, pointing out that the coal industry and business groups such as the Chamber have succeeded in bogging down President Obama's climate rules in the courts.
The Natural Resources Defense Council pointed out that the EPA's signature climate rule, the Clean Power Plan, has been stayed by the Supreme Court until all legal action has concluded. That likely will take a year, freeing the states from having to begin complying in 2016.
The group, while not responding to the Chamber's report directly, on Wednesday started a push with its supporters to fund its defense of the Clean Power Plan.
"The Clean Power Plan takes aim straight at one of our biggest sources of climate pollution — America's aging and outmoded coal-fired power plants," said the group's president, Rhea Suh in a message to donors. "But the coal industry and their allies have mounted a massive legal assault, tying up the Clean Power Plan in federal court."
The Chamber, nearly 30 states and dozens of other groups have sued the EPA over the climate plan and will be making their case to scrap the plan next month in the court. Oral arguments are scheduled for Sept. 27 in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Suh said the coal industry is also mounting a fall lobbying push in Congress to cut funding for the Clean Power Plan.
"NRDC is fighting back. Our legal team is mounting a full-scale defense and will be in the D.C. Circuit Court for an all-important hearing on the Clean Power Plan," she wrote in a fundraising email.
"Big Coal will pull out all the stops to kill America's Clean Power Plan in the D.C. Circuit Court. Help NRDC win this critical legal battle for our climate."