The Act includes a Congressional mandate directing U.S. EPA to develop a comprehensive set of regulations. Regulations, or rulemakings, are issued by an agency, such as U.S. EPA, that translate the general mandate of a statute into a set of requirements for the Agency and the regulated community.
Regulations are developed by U.S. EPA in an open and public manner according to an established process. When a regulation is formally proposed, it is published in an official government document called the Federal Register to notify the public of U.S. EPA's intent to create new regulations or modify existing ones. U.S. EPA provides the public, which includes the potentially regulated community, with an opportunity to submit comments.
The final regulation is published, or promulgated, in the Federal Register.1 Included with the regulation is a discussion of the Agency's rationale for the regulatory approach, known as preamble language. Final regulations are compiled annually and incorporated into the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) according to a highly structured format based on the topic of the regulation. This latter process is called codification, and each CFR title corresponds to a different regulatory authority. For example, U.S. EPA's regulations are in Title 40 of the CFR. The codified RCRA regulations can be found in Title 40 of the CFR, Parts 240-282. These regulations are often cited as 40 CFR, with the part listed afterward (e.g., 40 CFR Part 264), or the part and section (e.g., 40 CFR §264.10).
Although this relationship between an Act and the regulations is the norm, the relationship between HSWA and its regulations differs slightly. Congress, through HSWA, not only provided U.S. EPA with a general mandate to promulgate regulations but also placed explicit instructions in the statute to develop certain regulations. Many of these requirements are so specific that U.S.
EPA incorporated them directly into the regulations. HSWA is all the more significant because of the ambitious schedules that Congress established for implementation of the Act's provisions. Another unique aspect of HSWA is that it established statutory requirements that would go into effect automatically (with the force of regulations) if U.S. EPA failed to issue regulations by certain dates.
The interpretation of statutory language does not end with the codification of regulations. U.S. EPA further clarifies the requirements of the Act and its regulations through guidance documents and policy. It published the RCRA Orientation Manual1 in order to educate and inform the public about the broad requirements of RCRA's regulatory program. Two other U.S. EPA documents provide an informative look back at the past and a speculative look forward to the future of the RCRA program. For a look back, the report 25 Years of RCRA: Building on Our Past to Protect Our Future3 commemorates RCRA's 25th Anniversary in October 2001 and highlights the accomplishments of RCRA's protective framework to date. For a look ahead, the draft white paper Beyond RCRA: Prospects for Waste and Materials Management in the Year 20204 identifies trends that could affect the future of waste management and resource conservation and also suggests general strategies that might be used to build a new vision for the future of the program.
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