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, for example.

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...
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.

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 Tax Commission.

- Interstate Compacts from States News site of the Council of State Governments
- Maryland's list of interstate agencies

Neighboring States
Virginia Government and Politics
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