The US EPA Issues Final Rule Establishing Procedures for Issuance of Guidance Documents

In the October 19, 2020 edition of the Federal Register, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a final rule establishing the procedures and requirements for how the EPA will manage the issuance of guidance documents. The purpose of this rulemaking action is to effectuate Executive Order 13891 entitled “Promoting the Rule of Law Through Improved Agency Guidance Documents.” The effective date for this final rule is November 18, 2020.

This rulemaking:
  • establishes an online portal (the EPA Guidance Portal) with which the EPA will identify EPA guidance documents for the public;
  • establishes definitions for key terms including “guidance document,” “significant guidance document,” “active guidance document,” and “rescinded guidance document;”
  • establishes standard elements for all guidance documents as well as additional requirements for significant guidance documents;
  • creates procedures for the EPA to enable the public to comment on draft significant guidance documents;
  • creates procedures for the public to petition the Agency for modification or withdrawal of guidance documents, and creates procedures for the public to petition the EPA to reinstate guidance documents that were rescinded;
  • requires that the EPA make information publicly available regarding petitions received pursuant to the petition procedures.
The EPA Guidance portal provides the following identifying information for each guidance document:
  • A concise name for the guidance document;
  • The date on which the guidance document was issued;
  • The date on which the guidance document was posted to the Guidance Portal;
  • An EPA unique identifier;
  • A hyperlink to the guidance document and any supporting or ancillary documents;
  • The general topic, program, and/or statute addressed by the guidance document; and
  • A brief summary of the guidance document’s content.