Protecting Public Health and the Environment.

Laws, Rules, Etc.

DEQ's activities and those of the regulated public are governed by laws and rules. In general, laws and rules are enforceable and prescribe a legal standard or directive. Laws that may be applicable in Idaho are passed by either the U.S. Congress or the Idaho Legislature. Rules are adopted by state agencies. DEQ also develops and uses policies and guidance documents. These documents are not enforceable, but rather set forth DEQ’s interpretation of its rules, or otherwise provide assistance to the public and DEQ in implementing applicable rules and programs. The following discussion is designed to provide a general description of the differences between authorities that govern DEQ’s actions. Detailed descriptions are contained in Idaho statutes and administrative code.

Laws and Rules

Laws prescribe a legal standard that must be followed by all individuals, businesses or other entities within the applicable jurisdiction. Laws originate as bills and must be passed by a majority of the members of a governing body, such as the U.S. Congress or the Idaho Legislature. They are compiled in specific codes, such as Idaho Code. Major environmental laws include the federal Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, and Resource Conservation and Recovery Act,  as well as the state Idaho Environmental Protection and Health Act.

Rules, too, prescribe a legal standard, but they originate with federal and state agencies rather than a governing body. The Idaho Legislature passes laws, but also authorizes agencies, including DEQ, to help put those laws into effect by creating and enforcing rules. Laws often do not include all the details needed to explain how an individual or business must follow the law. In order to make the laws work on a day-to-day basis, the Idaho Legislature authorizes agencies such as DEQ to create rules.

In Idaho, rules are proposed by state departments, opened for public comment, and in most agencies, reviewed by a board of citizens appointed by the governor. If approved by the board, the rules are then sent to the Legislature for review. If the Legislature does not act on the rules, they automatically take effect at the end of the legislative session. Legislative action is required, however, whenever a rule implements a new or revised fee. Rules are compiled in administrative code and people who do not follow the rules may be subject to enforcement actions. Rules specifically governing DEQ’s actions are contained in Chapter 58 of Idaho’s Administrative Code.

Table of Authorities

A table with links to the laws and rules governing DEQ's operations is available here.

Idaho's Rulemaking Process

Learn about the five stages in the rulemaking process here.

DEQ Rulemakings

Access up-to-date information on rulemaking dockets currently under consideration here.

Policies and Guidance

Guidance and policies are not enforceable, but rather set forth DEQ’s interpretation of its rules, or otherwise provide assistance to the public and DEQ in implementing applicable rules and programs.

DEQ Policies

View current administrative, air quality, water quality, and waste management and remediation policies here.

DEQ Guidance

Access various documents that provide guidance on implementing DEQ programs here.


Memoranda of Understanding

Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) outline the responsibilities of various parties that share responsibilities for implementing and enforcing certain laws. MOUs are designed to clarify who does what and eliminate duplication of efforts or, in some cases, conflict over who’s in charge. DEQ is party to a number of MOUs (sometimes called Memoranda of Agreement or MOAs) with EPA and other state agencies. Recent MOUs may be accessed here.

Precedential Orders of the Board

The Idaho Administrative Procedure Act (Idaho Code Title 67, Chapter 52) requires agencies to maintain an index of written final orders that the agency intends to rely upon as precedent. Learn more.