EPA Finalizes Rule for New Regulatory Guidance Documents


The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized a rulemaking on Sept. 14 that establishes new regulatory standards for all EPA regulatory guidance documents. These documents help EPA and other federal agencies provide implementation and enforcement guidance to regulated entities. EPA has issued tens of thousands of guidance documents to interpret environmental statutes, regulations and its permitting programs.

EPA's final rule, which is intended to increase transparency and access, has four key elements:

  • Establishes a regulatory definition for the "guidance documents" and "significant guidance documents" that are subject to the rule's requirements.
  • Responds to President Trump's directive under Executive Order 13891, "Promoting the Rule of Law Through Improved Agency Guidance Documents," by creating a centralized website where the public can locate all of EPA's active regulatory guidance documents.
  • Requires all "significant regulatory guidance documents" to be subject to public comment before being finalized by the Agency.
  • Creates a process by which anyone can petition the Agency to modify or withdraw any existing regulatory guidance document.

When the rule was initially proposed, NAHB's comments were very supportive of the rule's transparency requirements, such as requiring EPA to post all regulatory guidance documents online. NAHB members must rely upon these documents to understand various environmental permitting, required environmental training and recordkeeping requirements.

NAHB also cautioned EPA not to take any actions that would hinder the Agency's ability to provide timely guidance to regulated entities. Given the complexity of EPA's permitting and regulatory programs, NAHB members rely upon timely guidance on a wide range of environmental compliance matters, including EPA's permitting programs, and required worker training, firm certification and recordkeeping requirements under EPA's Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule.

For more information about EPA's final regulatory guidance rule, please contact Michael Mittelholzer.

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