The Rulemaking Gateway: A New Tool to Learn About Our Rules and Watch Their Progress

Before coming to EPA, I taught environmental law at Georgetown for 16 years. As a law professor, I was an avid consumer of information about EPA’s rules, their effects on communities of interest, and their status in the regulatory process. Unfortunately, I often found that it was often hard to find this kind of information at all, and close to impossible to find it all in one place.

This is why I’m so excited about our new Rulemaking Gateway. This is a new web site that makes EPA’s rulemaking process more transparent and easier to follow. It gives you the tools to understand how you can get involved in EPA’s priority rulemakings, how a rulemaking might affect you, and where each rule falls in our rulemaking process. As a former and future professor, I know this tool will be helpful to my students, my fellow academics, and to me. As a citizen, I see that the Gateway will be useful to me, my neighbors, and my community.

I hope you will find that the Gateway helps you to both track and participate in our rulemakings. I currently serve as EPA’s Regulatory Policy Officer, and in this role, I hear from many of our constituent groups. You have told me that you want to know what’s going on with EPA rules early and often. You want to know how you can get involved while the rule is still being drafted. Before I joined EPA, I wanted the same things. I wanted it to be easier to get a brief snapshot of an EPA rule and understand its evolution.

The Gateway does this and more. It gives you the opportunity to learn about a priority rule right from its start. It makes it easier than ever before to get up-to-date information as a rule goes through each phase on its way to being finalized. For example, EPA is working on a rule to investigate the potential hazards associated with lead weights used to balance the wheels on your car. Lead is highly toxic, especially to young children, and recent data shows that even very low levels of lead are associated with decreased intelligence, impaired neurobehavioral development, and behavioral effects. This rulemaking is in its early stages. We started working on it in fall 2009 and aren’t planning to ask for public comment until spring of 2011. Yet the Gateway already projects a date for the proposal; gives a description of how the rule might affect children’s health, environmental justice, small businesses, and sub-national governments; and provides a link where you can learn more about lead in paint, dust, and soil.

The Rulemaking Gateway is a major step forward in response to President Obama’s call to “establish a system of transparency, public participation, and collaboration.” I hope you’ll use the Gateway to learn about and get involved in EPA rulemakings. They affect you; they affect everyone. Help us protect human and environmental health by getting involved. And once you’ve experienced our Gateway, visit our Discussion Forum where you can tell us how to make it work even better for you.

About the Author: Lisa Heinzerling is EPA’s Associate Administrator for the Office of Policy, Economics, and Innovation (OPEI). She is on a leave of absence from Georgetown Law.