Coordination is a process that requires federal agencies to resolve policy conflicts with State and local plans, policies and programs for the purpose of reaching consistency. This direction is found in many of our nation’s federal laws as well as many state laws. It recognizes that the responsibilities of State and local governments, to protect the health, safety and welfare of the people, must be harmonized with the federal position in order to ensure effective governance.
Coordination is simply good governance and the embodiment of “local control.” The government-to-government process infuses federal decision making with the institutional knowledge of local experts. It takes the handcuffs off State and local governments to help ensure federal agency actions are meaningful, productive and effective at ensuring robust local economies as well as good stewardship of our nation’s resources.
Coordination helps to ensure that political agendas are held in check by common sense practicalities, that administrative agencies are held accountable, and that the opinions of the people who visit and recreate on the federal lands do not override those of the people who live there.
While Coordination has been used successfully to stop programs that would harm the local community, it has also provided the pathway for resolving conflicts with federal agencies over the productive use of federal lands and proper stewardship of these lands. It is being used to increase grazing, timber, oil and gas production in the federal land states. It can and should be used as a tool to ensure the development of more efficient and effective plans for all branches of government.
Although Congress has directed federal agencies to coordinate with States, local governments and tribes in several statutes, the federal agencies fail to initiate the process. Successful coordination has been accomplished from the ground up, with local governments insisting the law be followed.