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Tribal Energy and Environmental Information Clearinghouse: Environmental resources for tribal energy development
Energy Resources Assessments & Monitoring Laws & Regulations
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TEEIC Laws & Regulations Section Guide

Clean Air Act (CAA)

Legislation governing the protection of air quality. The CAA (42 USC 7401 et seq.) establishes ambient air quality standards, permit requirements for both stationary and mobile sources, and standards for acid deposition and stratospheric ozone protection. The full suite of CAA regulations promulgated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is available at 40 CFR 50-99.

Regulations Applicable to Energy Development

Portions of the CAA regulations are potentially applicable to energy development activities on tribal lands. These include the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS), New Source Review (NSR) permit requirements, New Source Performance Standards (NSPS), National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAPs), and EPA-issued operating permit requirements. Also of relevance, the CAA regulations include a section authorizing EPA approval of individual tribal air quality programs.

  • National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) (40 CFR 50)
    Regulations issued by the EPA establishing primary and secondary NAAQS that define levels of air quality necessary to protect public health and welfare. The EPA's NAAQS Web page provides more information about these requirements.
  • New Source Review (NSR) Permits (40 CFR 51-52)
    Permit regulations, which are incorporated into requirements for state and tribal implementation plans, requiring that all new stationary sources of air pollution be permitted before construction begins. There are three types of NSR permits: (1) Nonattainment NSR permits (40 CFR 51), which may apply to new major sources or major modifications of existing sources located in areas that are not in attainment with the NAAQS; (2) Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) permits (40 CFR 52.21), which may apply to new major sources or major modifications of existing sources located in attainment areas or unclassifiable areas with respect to the NAAQS; and (3) Minor NSR permits, which may apply to facilities not requiring either a PSD or Nonattainment NSR permit. The EPA's New Source Review Web page provides more information about these permit requirements.
  • New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) (40 CFR 60)
    Regulations issued by the EPA establishing air pollution emission standards for new stationary sources of emissions. NSPS have been established for a number of individual categories related to energy development, including oil and gas production facilities, onshore natural gas-processing plants, petroleum refineries, bulk gasoline terminals, petroleum liquid storage vessels, coal preparation plants, and steam generators. Two elements of the NSPS regulations, the Clean Air Mercury Rule and Clean Air Interstate Rule, potentially will apply to certain energy development activities. The Clean Air Mercury Rule will cap and reduce mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants, and the Clean Air Interstate Rule (CAIR) will permanently cap emissions of sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) in the eastern United States. The EPA's NSPS Web page provides additional information about this program.
  • National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAPs) Regulations (40 CFR 63)
    Regulations issued by the EPA governing emissions of hazardous air pollutants (HAPs), or air toxics, not covered by the NAAQS. Standards have been established for a number of "source categories" that emit one or more of the HAPs in significant quantities, including some categories that may be related to energy development activities. The EPA's Pollutants & Sources Web page provides information about HAPs and source categories.
  • EPA-Issued CAA Operating Permits (40 CFR 71)
    Regulations issued regarding the EPA-issued permits (as opposed to permits issued by state and local entities) for the operation of a facility that emits air pollutants. These would include operating permits that would be issued by the EPA for energy development facilities on tribal lands. The EPA's Part 71 Permits Web page provides information about EPA-issued operating permits.
  • Tribal CAA Authority (40 CFR 49)
    Regulations issued by EPA identifying the CAA provisions for which tribes are or may be treated in the same manner as states. These regulations authorize eligible tribes to have the same rights and responsibilities as states under the CAA and authorize EPA approval of tribal air quality programs.

Relevant Web Site(s)

  • Clean Air Act
    The EPA's Web page providing access to basic information on the CAA, the legislation, and regulations

Specific Tribal Program(s)


This statute may apply to the following energy resources:
Biomass, Carbon Sequestration, Coal, Geothermal, Hydrokinetic, Low-Head Hydropower, Oil & Gas, Solar, Transmission, Wind
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