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Clean Air Act – Enforcement Provisions

Clean Air Act – Enforcement

The EPA can initiate or take part in enforcement actions for violations of the CAA. This includes seeking administrative orders, civil sanctions, or participating in criminal actions through the Justice Department. The CAA authorizes fines of up to $25,000 per day for emissions violations. Criminal sanctions include fines of individuals up to $250,000 and up to 15 years in prison. Corporations can be fined up to $1 million per incident for knowingly endangering people with emissions and up to $500,000 per incident for negligent emissions.

⁃    Note: The EPA has approved numerous state plans to allow polluters to save or “bank” any amount that the company falls below its maximum pollution threshold. This allows the company to use this amount as a sort of credit and pollute more at a later period. Companies are also allowed to sell or trade in these banked pollution rights. This allows cleaner companies to sell their benefits to heavier polluters.

•    Discussion: How do you feel about the Clean Air Acts combination of state and federal enforcement regime? Do you believe the regulatory measures are sufficient to achieve the Act’s objectives? Should the individual requirements on polluters be balanced against the economic needs of a region?

•    Practice Question: ABC Corp plans on building a new factory in New Mexico and very close to the border of Arizona. Under the Clean Air Act, what procedures might ABC have to follow in order to receive the necessary permissions to build and operate this facility?

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