Clean Air Act (CAA) Enforcement Programs
The Clean Air Act (CAA) applies to both stationary sources of air pollution (such as factories, processing plants, chemical plants, refineries, and utilities) and mobile sources (such as vehicles, tractors, lawn mowers, airplanes as well as rules governing formulation and use of fuel). The Clean Air Act Enforcement Programs are divided according to the various Titles of the Clean Air Act.
- Stationary Source Enforcement Programs
- Mobile Source Enforcement Programs
Section 112 of the Clean Air Act was amended in 1990 to require EPA to issue emission standards and requirements for 189 toxic air pollutants to curb the emission of cancer causing air toxins. This was a massive undertaking, which has resulted in over 100 new rules for industrial and commercial sources of air pollution, from neighborhood dry cleaners to petrochemical complexes. These new rules, called NESHAPs or National Emissions Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants, apply mostly to larger sources, but also some smaller sources of air pollution. The rules require existing and new sources to install controls that are the Maximum Achievable Control Technology or MACT and install certain monitors, keep records and report to the agency that is overseeing them.
For the first several years that these new rules were in place, EPA mostly conducted outreach and compliance assistance to the regulated community, but now has begun a standard enforcement process of identifying priority violators and taking enforcement actions, including seeking penalties. Since 1997, EPA has brought enforcement actions for Section 112 air toxics violations in over 500 administrative penalty cases and nearly 100 judicial enforcement cases, some involving penalties and environmental projects over $1 million each.
In December 2008 the Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia (PDF) (21 pp, 65K), issued a decision vacating the provisions in 40 C.F.R. Sections 63.6(f)(1) and 63.6(h)(1), which exempt emissions that occur during periods of startup, shutdown and malfunction from the emission standards that must otherwise be met for a given hazardous air pollutant. Certain parties to that litigation have sought a rehearing of the Court's decision. If the Court denies the request for a rehearing and issues a mandate requiring the vacatur of these rules, then sources will have to meet applicable emission standards even during periods of startup, shutdown, and malfunction.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) agreed to jointly enforce U.S. and international air pollution requirements for vessels operating in U.S. waters. These requirements establish limits on nitrogen oxides (NOx) emissions and require the use of fuel with lower sulfur content, protecting people's health and the environment by reducing ozone-producing pollution, that can cause smog and aggravate asthma. The most stringent requirements apply to ships operating within 200 nautical miles of the coast of North America.
- Press Release (06/27/11)