Document Type

News Article

Publication Date



The Clean Air Act is notoriously difficult to navigate and enforce. The difficulty is in part due to the act's regulatory scheme, which is inferior in critical ways to the Federal Water Pollution Control Act (commonly known as the Clean Water Act). Unlike the Waste Discharge Requirements covering discharges of pollution into water bodies issued by the Regional Water Quality Control Board, which contain both federal and state requirements in a single permit, the Clean Air Act does not require a single permit for all facilities that pollute the air. Also significant, the Clean Air Act does not require self-reporting of violations by all facilities that pollute the air.

Despite these challenges, Clean Air Act enforcement remains an important part of the docket for both government and private enforcers. What are the tools for determining the requirements that apply to a specific facility? The most basic tools are knowing about the different types of federal permits that a facility is required to have; obtaining copies of such permits; investigating the facility's compliance through information obtained through the Freedom of Information Act and the California Public Records Act; and reviewing the provisions of the act to determine applicable requirements that are not contained in permits.


Article originally appeared online in The Recorder, July 7, 2012. Posted with permission.