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Federal Facilities and the Clean Air Act (CAA)

The Clean Air Act mandates pollution control requirements for sources of air pollution. Federal Facilities have regulatory responsibilities under the Clean Air Act including obtaining emission permits, installing pollution and emission control devices, developing risk management plans, and maintain records. Part of EPA’s mission is to ensure that federal facilities comply with these requirements.

Control of Pollution From Federal Facilities - The CAA waives the sovereign immunity of the United States. As such, federal facilities must comply with all Federal, State, interstate, and local requirements; administrative authorities; and processes and sanctions in the same manner and to the same extent as any nongovernmental entity (Section 118).

Limitations on Certain Federal Assistance - Federal facilities are prohibited from supporting, providing assisting, or approving activities that are inconsistent with State Implementation Plans (SIP) requirements designed to eliminate or reduce the severity and number of air pollution violations.

NEPA Review - Federal facilities must submit certain proposed actions to EPA for review and public comment in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). If the proposing agency does not make sufficient revisions, EPA may refer the matter to the President’s Council on Environmental Quality for mediation.

EPA Enforcement Tools

When federal facilities violate the Clean Air Act, EPA may issue a unilateral order to force the facility to take action to address the violation.

EPA may also asses penalties against the facility for violation. EPA can also register a complaint against the facility to request the facility to take action and/or pay monetary penalties for the violation. In 1997, the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Office of Legal Counsel issued an opinion that concluded EPA is authorized to assess civil penalties against Federal agencies under the Clean Air Act. On October 9, 1998, EPA issued the Guidance on Implementation of EPA’s Penalty/Compliance Order Authority Against Federal Agencies Under the Clean Air Act (CAA). The civil monetary penalties have been adjusted pursuant to the Debt Collection Improvement Act of 1996 and are described in full in the aforementioned sections of the CAA.

To learn more, review the EPA’s federal facilities Clean Air Act enforcement and compliance program documents.


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