On February 28, 2020, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) online guidance database (available here) went live. EPA, along with other federal agencies, was required to make its guidance documents available through a single portal. Although much of EPA’s guidance was publicly available online previously, the database provides a single point of entry for the agency’s guidance documents. Because agencies such as EPA often communicate their understanding of statutory and regulatory requirements, as well as other key pieces of information through guidance documents instead of rulemakings, the database will be a valuable resource for the regulated public and may make finding relevant guidance on a particular issue more efficient.
EPA’s implementation of its guidance database may have a substantive effect as well. The executive order requiring this database states that any guidance document not available in the database will not be effective. Moreover, in a note about its database, EPA explained that it did not simply move all of its guidance documents into a single location. Rather, EPA stated that it conducted an “exhaustive review of its current guidance documents and withdrew those documents that were determined to be no longer relevant.”