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Clean Air Act Enforcement in Western States and Indian Country

John R. Jacus, Air Quality Challenges Facing the Natural Resources Industry in the Western United States (2007)

I. Introduction. Like most environmental statutes, the Clean Air Act (“CAA” or the “Act”) is enforced primarily by states and local governments that issue permits, monitor compliance, and conduct the majority of inspections in the exercise of their EPA-delegated CAA authority, and under their own statutes and ordinances. The federal government, primarily through EPA, has authority to review state actions, and to “over file” when necessary. While differences in state air quality laws and programs exist, they all must cover the basic requirements of the CAA in order to be delegated authority to administer the Act. In light of this, we review CAA enforcement with a focus on federal requirements that are reflected in varying ways by numerous state air quality statutes and their respective implementing regulations.

The Act also provides for citizen suits against persons alleged to have violated the Act for permits issued pursuant to the Act, and against EPA for failure to enforce the Act, i.e., failure to perform an action that is not discretionary under the Act. This latter citizen suit authority is most often used to compel the development of regulations required by statute.

The 1990 Amendments to the Clean Air Act strengthened a number of enforcement provisions. Section 113 of the Act establishes federal authority to issue agency and court orders requiring compl