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Environmental Health Division
Health Risk Limits Rules for Groundwater
Rulemaking is a process that allows agencies to set policies into law. Rulemaking is governed by Minnesota Statutes, chapter 14, and Minnesota Rules, chapter 1400. These laws, called the Administrative Procedures Act, require agencies to be authorized through statute to complete rulemaking. The Groundwater Protection Act of 1989 provides MDH with authorization to add or “adopt” guidance values into rule for chemicals that have been detected in groundwater in the state. These values appear in the Health Risk Limit Rules for Groundwater in Minnesota Rules Chapter 4717.7500 to 4717.7900. MDH may remove or update old guidance values in this rule, as well as adopt a set of procedures or methodology that will be used to develop health-based guidance values.
In most cases, program risk managers are able to use guidance values, such as HBVs, without adoption into rule. However, some risk managers rely on guidance values that have been adopted through rulemaking. Adopting values into rule provides predictability for long-term planning. It also allows stakeholders and the public the opportunity to comment on values. Therefore, adopting guidance values into rule is completed when possible.
Rulemaking involves several steps that are outlined in the Administrative Procedures Act in Chapter 14 of the Minnesota Statutes. These steps exist to provide the public and stakeholders several opportunities to provide input during the rulemaking process. A summary of rulemaking steps can be viewed on the Rulemaking Process page. More details can be found in the Minnesota Administrative Procedures Act.
The length of time from the start of rulemaking to completion depends on several factors. Some of these include the complexity of the rule, the type of chemicals involved, the comments the agency receives, and time for discussions with stakeholders. In addition, most documents created during the rulemaking process require review and approval by several agencies or individuals before the next step can occur. At times, issues arise that delay these approvals. Typically, MDH expects rulemaking for Health Risk Limits Amendments to take about nine months to one year. However, it is not unusual for the process to be delayed to 18 months or longer.
MDH plans to complete a rulemaking cycle about every two years. This plan is based on the number of new or updated guidance values developed in a year and the amount of resources needed to complete rulemaking. MDH intends to follow this schedule into the future, as feasible.
Commenting on the proposed rules
During the rulemaking process, there are at least two time periods during which anyone may comment on the proposed rules.
The first comment period occurs during the beginning of the process when a Request for Comments is announced in the Minnesota State Register. This comment period is required to be at least 60 days. During this time, the agency announces its intentions and asks for comment on the plans. Comments are usually accepted by mail, email, phone or in person.
The second comment period occurs after the agency announces the Notice of Intent to Adopt Rules in the Minnesota State Register and makes an official copy of the proposed rules available. During this comment period, usually 30 days in length, all comments received are entered into the official rulemaking record. These comments are reviewed when the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) determines if the agency will be allowed to adopt the proposed rules.
Please note: Comments accepted during the 30-day comment period after the Notice of Intent to Adopt Rules has been published are part of the public record. MDH will add these comments to its website, except in some circumstances in accordance with Minnesota Government Data Practices Act.
The Health Risk Assessment Unit is available to hear concerns or questions about adopting guidance values into the Health Risk Limit Rules for Groundwater. Please Contact Health Risk Assessment