Agencies regulate according to the statutes developed by Congress. In addition, agencies are responsible for developing and promulgating regulations. Regulations generally are more specific statements of the rules found in statutes. For example, in response to Congressional mandates in the Clean Water Act, the EPA has promulgated specific regulations for storm water permits.
Agencies often develop regulations through an informal rulemaking that involves input from the EPA's technical and policy specialists and from interest groups which expect to be affected by those regulations.2 Agencies initially develop proposed regulations. The EPA then publishes the proposed regulations and allows a period for public comment. (See Section 4.6). This process allows interested parties, such as industries and nongovernmental organizations, to review the proposed regulations and provide the
1. The discussion here focuses on executive branch agencies. However, the term executive is used as an adjective to describe, in general, the executive functions of agencies.
2. Usually, when an agency legislates or develops regulations, it follows procedures commonly known as notice and comment or informal rule-
making. Informal rulemaking requires the agency to notify the public that it is considering developing a rule, commonly referred to as a pro posed rule. The agency must publish a draft of the proposed rule and invite comments from the public in response. Other kinds of rulemakings include formal, hybrid, and negotiated rulemaking. However, the scope of this discussion does not go beyond the informal rulemaking model.
If enough interest exists, hearings may be scheduled to discuss and clarify the proposed regulations. The input of various parties during the comment and hearing period, like the input of legislators, all goes into what finally becomes the regulation or rule. Once all the comments are reviewed, the agency publishes a final rule or regulation.
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