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Air Quality Management in the United States
Protecting and improving visibility impairment in wilderness areas and national parks.
Reducing the emissions of species that cause acid rain, specifically SO2 and NOx.
Curbing the use of chemicals that have the potential to deplete the stratospheric O3 layer.
The CAA prescribes a complicated set of responsibilities and relationships among federal, state, tribal,5,6 and local agencies. This matrix is referred to in this report as the nation’s air quality management (AQM) system. The federal government’s role is coordinated by EPA and is intended in part to provide a degree of national uniformity in air quality standards and approaches to pollution mitigation so that all individuals in America are assured a basic level of environmental protection. State and local governments are given much of the responsibility for implementing and enforcing the federally mandated rules and regulations within their jurisdictional domains, including developing and implementing specific strategies and control measures to meet national air quality standards and goals. Although many aspects of the AQM system assume a collaborative relationship between the federal, state, and local agencies, the CAA empowers EPA to oversee the activities carried out by those agencies. This oversight includes the power to impose federal sanctions and federally devised pollution-control plans on delinquent areas in some cases.
The federal courts also have a role in AQM. Final agency rules promulgated under the CAA are subject to judicial review, usually in the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, and the reviewing court may set aside any portion of a regulation found to be “arbitrary and capricious.” Under this standard, the courts take a “hard look” at the agency’s reasoning and the support in the rule-making record for critical factual conclusions, but the court is not supposed to substitute its judgment for that of the agency (Motor Vehicle Manufacturer’s Association v. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co., 463 U.S. 29, 43, 1983). A court will set aside an agency rule only if it finds that the decision was not based on a consideration of the relevant factors or that the agency committed a clear error of judgment. In addition, any citizen may file a civil action in district court against EPA that challenges the agency’s failure to perform any nondiscretionary act or duty, and the courts have the authority to order EPA to perform that act or duty and to compel agency action that is
Hereafter, “state” will be used as shorthand to denote both state and tribal authorities.
EPA’s adoption of 40 CFR Part 49, the Tribal CAA Authority rule, generally authorizes eligible tribes to exercise the same rights and have the same responsibilities as states have under the CAA.