Peering in on the EPA Process

U.S. Environmental Protection Administrator Lisa Jackson is making good on her promise to have a more transparent EPA with a new website called Reg Stat.

It may not be the liveliest online destination, but the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's latest endeavor—Reg Stat—has been launched to help anyone who is interested keep track of the environmental rulemaking process. Increased transparency for the agency has been a key component of EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson's tenure under Obama. As Jackson wrote in a memo to EPA employees in April 2009: "The success of our environmental efforts depends on earning and maintaining the trust of the public we serve. The American people will not trust us to protect their health or their environment if they do not trust us to be transparent and inclusive in our decision-making."

Reg Stat is one way she's fulfilling that promise. The website allows easy access to the latest EPA regulations, or changes to existing regulations; it also keeps track of original data conducted by the EPA's Office of Policy that drives those changes. Only about 7% of the up to 1,900 documents published by the EPA each year involve major changes: in other words documents that amend the Code of Federal Regulations and require the administrator's signature. The site features helpful bar graphs, definitions and a pretty thorough breaking down of exactly how the EPA's various offices—like the Office of Air and Radiation (OAR) and the Office of Water—make rules, and which office makes the most. OAR, for instance, had 461 federal register entries between 2005 and 2009, representing 74.5% of the total. A "Rulemaking Gateway" link lets you follow rules-in-progress, such as efforts currently underway to better manage the disposal of coal combustion waste to prevent contamination to soil and groundwater.

SOURCES: EPA Memo; EPA Reg Stat; EPA Rulemaking Gateway.