EPA Releases Proposed Rule to Increase Transparency of Guidance Documents

(May 20, 2020) – EPA released a proposed rule May 19 that it says will improve the transparency of guidance documents issued by the Agency. 

The rule, which is in response to an Executive Order on agency guidance issued in October 2019, codifies procedures that EPA must follow to ensure the public can engage in the development and review of Agency guidance. Among other things, the proposal will:

  • Establish the first formal petition process for the public to request that EPA modify or withdraw a guidance document; and
  • Ensure that the agency’s guidance documents are developed with appropriate review and are accessible and transparent to the public; and
  • Provide for public participation in the development of significant guidance documents.

The proposed ruled will be open for public comment for 30 days after publication in the Federal Register. 

NACWA is currently reviewing the proposal and determining if the Association should comment. One interesting, and potentially problematic, aspect of the proposal is the establishment of a formal petition process to modify or withdraw a guidance.  While this could be beneficial to the public clean water community in certain circumstances, it could also be detrimental in others, especially if abused by environmental activists. 

NACWA members with any thoughts or comments on the proposal can contact Emily Remmel, NACWA’s Director of Regulatory Affairs.