Rulemaking in the Shade: An Empirical Study of EPA’s Air Toxic Emissions

In this article, the authors trace the engagement and the influence of interest groups over the entire life cycle of a complete set of complex EPA rules that set emissions standards for the industrial release of air toxins. In particular they focus on three of the most worrisome phases of the administrative process where imbalances in interest group engagement and influence may be occurring. The thesis of this study is that imbalances in interest group engagement are occurring at critical albeit somewhat obscure stages of the rulemaking life cycle and that these imbalances are impacting the substance of the rulemaking project.

This article proceeds in five parts. Part I explores three stages in the rulemaking life cycle that may be afflicted with imbalanced interest group engagement that in turn might distort the outcome of the rulemaking project.  Part II describes the methods of the article, which examine the nature of interest group engagement and activity at these problem stages in a complete set of rules promulgated by the EPA governing the industrial emissions of air toxics.  Part III describes the findings and Part IV collects information from disparate sources in detective like fashion to explain some of the surprises and new questions that emerge from this research.  In the conclusion, the authors retell the store that emerges from their data and consider whether it suggests more pervasive problems in administrative law that will benefit from further study.

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