As with any regulatory proposal, there are bound to be some elements on which you have a very strong opinion, either for or against. After a review of the document, identify those elements that would have the most significant impact on your operation. For example:
- Are there fundamental problems with what was proposed beyond the technical elements?
- Does the proposal contain a requirement to install a piece of equipment that is either too expensive or too costly to maintain?
- Does the proposal contain a new process that is overly burdensome?
- Does the proposal provide any alleviation or efficiencies that reduce your workload, regulatory burden or compliance costs?
It is important to describe in as much detail as possible the reasons for your concerns. While you may have read the government’s lengthy and articulate explanations as to why this solution is in your (or their) best interest, the rule writers and analysts often fail to completely determine the affects of the rule. Do not let incomplete or inaccurate descriptions of the effect of a proposal on your operation go unchallenged. In order to change a proposal, the government must see, through your comments, that its estimates were wrong and that the rule requires modification.
Not every proposed rule (or every portion of a proposed rule) is detrimental or burdensome. If the vast majority of a rule makes you cringe, but you view one element as a positive change, be sure to include your support of it in your comments and provide details about the beneficial effects. For example:
- Will this section of the proposed rule save you time, money, or resources, while maintaining an acceptable level of safety/security/compliance?
- Does the portion of the rule in question acknowledge an existing common process or best practice in your industry?
- Does this section harmonize with international requirements or practices, making your operation more efficient?
Remember, the agency that drafted the proposed rule can alter any portion of the proposal before a final rule is published – even the “good stuff.” If the proposing agency receives no feedback on sections that you feel are positive changes, the agency might not understand the beneficial impact of those sections, and they could be removed or changed before you would ever reap the benefits.