Commenting on Proposed Rules
One of the most common misconceptions about environmental regulation is the idea that agencies and governments decide upon a new rule behind closed doors and implement it without hearing from the public. In reality, the TCEQ, RRC, EPA, and even local groundwater conservation districts (GCDs) have specific comment time periods, during which members of the public can make comments, objections, and suggested changes to proposed rules. The agencies consider these comments and respond to them, sometimes changing the proposed rule before adopting it in its final form.
At McPherson Law Firm PLLC, we maintain substantial involvement in the environmental rulemaking process. We encourage our clients to participate wherever they can because they often have more power than they realize.
The Public Comment Period
When agencies and governments create new policies, they often fail to consider or simply don’t understand the particulars and concerns of any given business. Not surprisingly, proposed rules may simply be unworkable, even if the underlying intentions are sound. As you decide whether or not to participate in rulemaking projects, consider the saying, “if you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu.” The policy may adversely affect your business operations, and your active involvement (i.e. understanding the proposed rule and submitting comments) could help you tailor it to your benefit or minimize its negative effects. Furthermore, your competitors may be undertaking analysis themselves. If they succeed in adjusting policies to their benefit, the new regulations may entirely disregard your interests.
Here are four major rulemaking agencies that welcome your involvement during public comment periods:
- Federal regulations. This page lists current proposals along with their closing dates. When you click a rule, you have access to the complete text and the option to submit your information and comments.
- Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ). Once agency staff members file recommendations with the Chief Clerk, commissioners vote on the proposal. If they approve the proposal, it moves to the Texas Register for public comment. On this site, you have access to each proposal, key due dates, and the portal you can use to submit comments.
- Texas Water Development Board. Similar to the TCEQ process, opnce the commissioners approve a proposal, it moves to the Texas Register for public comment. On this site, you have access to each proposal, key due dates, and the portal you can use to submit comments.
- The Railroad Commission of Texas (RRC). Here, you can check the status of proposed rules within each policy chapter. If the comment period is still open, you have access to a link that takes you to a comment template.
Let Us Help You Advocate for Your Needs
While the comment process is relatively straightforward, understanding any given proposal may be significantly more challenging. Our attorney has more than 30 years of experience navigating rule proposals, amendments, and ramifications for both individuals and businesses in Texas. We can help you analyze your current situation and future goals in order to determine which proposals may affect your operations or properties. We can then help you draft effective and compelling comments to better advocate for your needs and influence decision-makers at each agency.