Multi-State and State/Federal Organizations
Virginia government and politics do not exist in a vacuum. The governor does not have
the luxury of ignoring the politics or services in the neighboring states.
Maryland "owns" the Potomac River, and West Virginia acid mine drainage
affects water quality - just as Virginia pollutes the upper watershed of
the Big Sandy River. Delaware fishermen land their catches of horseshoe
crabs in Virginia ports, and Norfolk competes head-to-head with Baltimore
for ocean-going shipping. Tennessee hospitals provide care to Southwest
Virginia residents, cancer patients in Southside go to North Carolina hospitals
for treatment - but ambulances travel from Nags Head to Norfolk as well.
"Neighboring" does not mean just the contiguous states either. Water
from New York flows into Chesapeake Bay, and winds blowing across Ohio
affect air quality at Shenandoah National Park. Traffic from the entire
East Coast clogs I-95 - and West Virginia will built Corridor H to the
edge of Virginia at Great North Mountain in Frederick County.
So Virginia participates in a variety of multi-state agencies, usually
with a Federal presence as well. Some disputes involve all the states and
require national action rather than agreements between just a few states.
In particular, keep an eye open for multi-state vs. Federal agreements
regarding transportation - setting the maximum weight of 18-wheel trucks,
The list above is not complete, but it's interesting to note a few multi-state
organizations to which Virginia does not belong. Geographically, it would
not make sense for Virginia to belong to the Northeast
Dairy Compact Commission. The Virginia milksheds are different from
New England's, and the whole point of the compact is to set a minimum farm
price for fluid milk that is above the federally mandated minimum price
level to reflect the unique characteristics of the region.
Determining the appropriate role of the states to act individually,
in partnership, or together in Congress is not a new issue. The Virginia/Maryland
trade dispute over control of the Potomac River (and Virginia's threat
to close the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay to Maryland shipping) spurred
George Washington to sponsor the 1786 Annapolis Conference. If you remember
your history, that meeting led to the Constitutional Convention in 1787
and the "miracle" in Philadelphia, creating our current Federal union to
replace the weak confederation of states.
Since Presidents McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt energized
the Federal government to confront the trusts and the power of Congress
in 1900, the Federal government has assumed a much greater role in establishing
national, rather than multi-state, standards in many areas of American
life. What activities besides transportation cross state lines? Well, there's
civil rights, health care, environmental protection, education...
And maybe it's logical that Virginia was not part of the Jennings
Randolph Lake Project Compact. It's more curious that Virginia is one
of only six states not to belong to the Multistate
Compacts from States News
site of the Council of State Governments
- Maryland's list
of interstate agencies
Virginia Government and Politics