By Nick Goldstein, vice president of regulatory and legal issues, ARTBA

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) wants to clarify and simplify its process for issuing guidance documents. Its Sept. 14 final rule responds to a 2019 executive order from President Donald Trump, which directed all federal agencies to reform how guidance documents are created and publicly distributed.

ARTBA and other members of the regulated community have long raised concerns about insufficient public input into the guidance process and that such documents improperly have the force and effect of federal regulations. The new rule:

  • allows the regulated community to comment on significant guidance documents before they are issued;
  • establishes a formal petition process for the public to request the modification, withdrawal, or reinstatement of existing guidance documents; and
  • ensures guidance documents receive appropriate review and are accessible to the public.

In June comments to EPA, ARTBA noted the ageny’s efforts would increase industry input and allow the regulators to address potential problems before they are implemented. EPA also has established a guidance website where more than 9,000 active documents can be searched.