The Environmental Protection Agency has treated state regulators “as petulant children, with the [agency] taking on the role of ‘helicopter mom’ of the worst order,” Arkansas’ top environmental official told Congress this week.

 States are best equipped to oversee their own particular environmental situations. But environmental regulators from both Arkansas and Arizona described the federal agency’s overbearing presence, saying that out-of-town regulators had made it tougher for them to do their jobs.

 In addition to using the “helicopter mom” analogy, Becky Keough, the director of Arkansas’ Department of Environmental quality, described the last eight years this way:

"I have been a vocal proponent of returning environmental rulemaking to its constitutional roots," she said. "Unfortunately, over the past eight years, that once noble partnership that balanced state and federal responsibility and accountability had morphed into something better described as coercive federalism, where the state was more pawn than partner."

Michael Cabrera, director of the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality, described how the EPA had presided over a hands-on, 20-year effort to improve air quality at the Grand Canyon—but yielded “no visible improvement,” the Daily Sun reported.

Here are the details:

The EPA’s website says the program “calls for state and federal agencies to work together to improve visibility in 156 national parks and wilderness areas,” including the Grand Canyon. But Cabrera testified that the federal government has only hindered efforts of a state-level commission to combat pollution-induced haze dating back to the 1990s.

He said the regional haze program “is well-intentioned, and we do not disagree with it.” But he said that in 1997, the EPA “proposed regulations that totally ignored” the findings of the state commission.

“When EPA completely ignored the Grand Canyon Transport Commission’s recommendations, what it did is it put us on a lengthy, 20-year process that resulted in no visible improvement to the Grand Canyon,” Cabrera said.

The EPA’s chief, Scott Pruitt, has long fought for a state-specific approach to environmental regulation. That’s a radical departure from the agency’s role under the Obama administration, which routinely deemed states’ plans inadequate, instead imposing federal standards.