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What Are Regulations

....Excerpted from the NYSDEC Rulemaking Manual

Regulations are rules, written in outline form, that are designed to fill in the details of the broad concepts mandated by the legislature in statutes. For instance, the Environmental Conservation Law (ECL) prohibits pollution of the waters of the state. The implementing regulations specify what acceptable levels of any particular substance (eg. parts per million) may be discharged into the groundwater or surface waters. The law allows the hunting of a particular game species, and the regulations set the open season length and bag limit for that animal.

A regulation has the same enforceability as a law, and when referenced, is usually cited by Title, Part, Section and Subdivision [eg. 6NYCRR Part 201.2(a)]. The law may mandate civil or criminal penalties or both for violations of regulations. The amounts of money, lengths of incarceration, or other penalties for particular violations are sometimes specified in law and sometimes in regulation.

All regulations that implement New York's laws must, by law, be filed with the Department of State (DOS) by the agency that wrote the regulation. DOS is responsible for public notice of all proposed regulations in the State Register. Subsequent to a regulation's adoption, DOS arranges for its printing in the New York State Codes, Rules and Regulations. The regulations promulgated by DEC are designed to implement the ECL. These regulations are contained in Title 6 of the Codes, Rules and Regulations, referred to as 6NYCRR.

Why do we write regulations?

....Excerpted from the NYDEC Rulemaking Manual

The process of promulgating regulations, called rulemaking, is governed by the State Administrative Procedures Act (SAPA). Rulemaking is designed to ensure that a reasonable course of action is taken to fulfill a statutory requirement. Regulations are adopted or changed in response to one or more of the following situations:

  • The legislature adopts a new law or revises an old one to change the statutory authority that the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has over regulated parties or activities.

  • Regulated parties or DEC staff are unclear about what is expected of them or what is prohibited in a regulation; so some "fine tuning" is necessary.

  • An order of the court as part of the settlement of litigation requires regulatory action.

  • A regulatory change will enhance DEC's enforcement abilities.

  • Calendar changes from year to year require corresponding changes in regulations that contain dates.

  • Correction of minor errors, replacement of accidental omissions, or insertion of clarifications require amendments to regulations. Such minor changes are called "housekeeping" amendments.

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