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When the Indiana legislature passes new environmental laws, the language within the laws is often broad and general. The legislature may grant IDEM the authority to develop rules that detail how the agency will implement and enforce the laws. Rules may include the types of operations or facilities that must comply with the law, what is required of them, and how IDEM will monitor compliance. IDEM also develops rules when the federal government passes new environmental regulations with which Indiana must comply. Additional IDEM interpretations of specific laws and rules may be described in nonrule policy documents, which do not have the effect of law but offer clarification to the public.

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