I suppose we could rely completely on the private sector and local organizing to do environmental research and protect the environment. Here in Penacook, local citizens could (?) research environmental hazards, how/where they are produced, how they might be mitigated. We could write letters to the coal companies, petro-chemical corporations, agribusinesses, asking them to please stop polluting. We could even have marches. Boscawen could do the same, as could Gilmanton . . . Go completely local, private, not have the EPA, Department of Energy, any part of the federal government involved. I'm sure Peabody, Exxon Mobil, Monsanto would be responsive.
We could also, I suppose, do the same thing with national defense. The Penacook Militia, LLC, The Boscawen Militia, Inc, Gilmanton Town Self Defense Corporation. That would allow us to get rid of the entire US military. Ditto retirement planning--go local and private (chuck out Social Security); medical care for seniors and the poor (get rid of that damn Medicare and Medicaid); local, for-profit corporations could build roads (shitcan the costly national highway system). And all of this would allow us to get rid of most taxes. Private individuals would pay for their own defense, bear the risks of their own retirement, pay for their own medical care in old age, pay tolls for all road travel. Demonstrate our strength and independence from the Feds!
But the environment, like health and defense, is a national issue. There is no Penacook air, or Lewes water. It's American air and water. Actually, it's an international issue. The air and water in China today are in the US tomorrow.
But the American environment is an issue for the American government--the federal government. Our government was designed "to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare . . .".* Seems like justice, tranquility, and the general welfare might all be promoted by keeping pollutants out of our air, water, and the ground. Hell, the common defense might benefit as well, given rising sea-level (as the US Navy believes) risks to ports and naval bases. Government can provide benefits of scale in both organizing and economizing; why have thousands of communities try to negotiate a decent environment with for-profit corporations when we have a government that is intended to do just that job for all of us?
* Preamble to the Constitution