Agencies entrusted with lawmaking activities by their enabling statute can act as if they were mini legislative bodies. The number of administrative agencies continues to rise as the complexity of running a government has increased. Today, there are 429 federal agencies, whose listing is easily accessible online. Some of them work as independent agencies and government corporations.Others functions as more or less separate branches within cabinet departments. All are now involved in the regulation of
business and other private activities.

How Rulemaking Works



Usually the rulemaking process starts with a simple notice and comment process. Agencies are required by the Administrative Procedure Actto notify interested parties of the rules they intend to adopt. Those interested may send their comments about the proposed rule to the agency, and the agency is required to take them into consideration. Again, when the agency passes its final rule, it must give notice of the rule to all affected by it. In that end, the agency publishes its final rules. The date of the publication of the final rule marks the beginning of the grace period at the end of which the persons affected by the rule will be found in violation of the specific policy.
All these steps are recorded and published in various repositories: Both the provisional and the final administrative regulations are published in a daily and official gazette called the Federal Register, while the final regulations are further systematically arranged and codified in another publication called, the Code of Federal Regulations.

Administrative rules are available from a multitude of sources: free-of-charge and fee-based. What is remarkable is that administrative law research can be successfully done free-of-charge, by using government documentation. Of course, this does not mean that proprietary databases are not useful: in this area too, they offer an ease of use which saves considerable time when research needs to be done in a timely fashion.


Examples of rulemaking or administrative implementation of statutory provisions

For example, Congress passed the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA in 1952).Since then, Congress amended it a few times, including in 2002 through the Homeland Security Act. Independent of these congressional acts, various federal agencies working within their delegated powers further developed and implemented the act and adopted specific rules. For instance, under the authority of the Homeland Security Act, the federal agency --Department of Homeland Security -- adopted an interim final rule regarding the disclosure of records and information. This rule was published on January 27, 2003. Note that although the rule became effective on the date of its publication, January 27, 2003, written comments were welcome until February 26, 2003. Both the proposed rule, the final rule and the call for The rule was written comments were published in the Federal Register. The final rule was published in volume for 2003 (which is the 68th volume) and it started at page 4,056. Its citation thus becomes 68 Fed. Reg. 4,056.

Another example of detailed rule making activity is the implementation of the Clean Air Act (CAA). CAA authorizes the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to regulate hazardous air pollutants. Under that authority, for instance, EPA proposed new air rules to reduce interstate transport of fine particulate matter and ozone (Interstate Air Quality Rule). The rules require states and the District of Columbia to reduce emissions from some pollutants. The EPA published its proposed Interstate Air Quality Rule in the Federal Register, on January 30, 2004. The rule was published in the Federal Register volume for 2004 (which is the 69th volume) and it started at page 4,566. Thus, it can be cited as 69 Fed. Reg. 4,566-4,650.21. The rule’s purpose was to minimize the cause of acid rains. Its aim was to reduce emissions of sulfur dioxide (SO2), and nitrogen oxides (NOx) by 2015.Being an administrative rule, its purpose is to implement the more vague statutory provisions, and unlike the work of Congress, agency rules are very detailed. For example, the Interstate Air Quality Rule stated that SO2 emissions must be reduced by 3.6 million tons in 2010 (approximately 40 percent below current levels) and by another 2 million tons per year when the rules are fully implemented (approximately 70 percent below the 2004 levels). Similarly, it aimed for NOx emissions to be cut by 1.5 million tons in 2010 and 1.8 million tons annually in 2015 (about 65 percent below 2004 levels). Those rules have been constantly amended, with the most recent proposed rule being published on August 2, 2010and then further adjusted on June 5, 2012. What is important to remember is that agency rulemaking is very detailed and also well recorded, and thus easily to research it it happened within the last 5 to 10 years.