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Abstract

This Article examines the development the "mandate millstone," the inflexible federal rules and regulations directed at state and local governments in the environmental arena. It surveys how the mandate millstone has burdened or threatened to burden the ocean dumping of sewage sludge by New York City. The Article reviews the method by which the city has traditionally disposed of its sewage sludge in the ocean waters surrounding the city, and how the city's disposal practices would have been altered radically had the city been forced to implement a plan, pursuant to United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations, to end its ocean dumping by December 31, 1981. The Article also traces the legislative history of the imposition of this rigid deadline, as well as the problems it posed and the development of widespread opposition to its enforcement. It discusses recent events which have spared New York City from conforming to the deadline, and what these events portend for ocean dumping practices in general. Finally, it considers the implications of these events for the development of the mandate millstone and for the process through which that millstone can be eased without undermining legitimate national goals.

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