Clean Air Act

There are 5 major programs under the CAA:

1.  National Ambient Air Quality Standards. 

    A.  The EPA sets goals for how clean the air must be based upon public health.  See for the current standards.  The criteria pollutants regulated by NAAQS include NOX, SOX, etc.

     B.  The States are required to make regulations on stationary sources that will bring the state's air  into compliance with NAAQS.  The State does this by writing a State Implementation Plan.

2.  New Source Performance Standards.  (For the statute:  New sources of air pollution are limited in their emissions.  These emission standards are tighter in areas that have worse air.  Hence, it is thought to be better for your regions economy not to be a non-attainment area.

3. National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants.  For instance for radiation: 

4. Mobile Sources.  The EPA directly regulates mobile sources and sets the limits of what they may emit for NOX and so on.  Of the States, only California may adopt more stringent regulations and if it does so other states may follow California.

5.  Acid Rain.  This is an emissions trading program.  Power plants need permits to emit SOX and they may buy and sell these permits freely.  The total number of permits is determined by EPA and determines the national level of NOX emissions

Comment:  These parts can and do overlap.  A large emitter in the South Coast Air Basin will be regulated under a NOX/SOX permit trading scheme persuant to the SIP.  It will be subject to the NSPS and to NESHAP.  If it makes power, it will also be part of the acid rain trading program.

While in the act there seems to be a clear delineation of responsibility, California has taken on what appears to be the Federal role (setting standards, regulating mobile sources) on several occasions.  The South Coast Air Basin can not come into compliance without regulating mobile sources more strictly than the US does, so California has been the nations leader in car regulation.  California implemented a trading program (cap emissions and trade within the cap) which was really not forseen as a method to be used under the CAA.  California is now the nations leader in classifying green house gasses as a target of regulation under the CAA.  Cal Air Resources Board has found that they have health effects.  That finding triggers the need to regulate.