Primary governing laws
The Air Pollution Control Law of Virginia is the part of the Code of Virginia that provides DEQ with the legal authority to carry out state air quality programs that the State Air Pollution Control Board determines are critical to the protection of public health and welfare. It also provides the authority to carry out federally-mandated air quality programs.
Virginia's Air Pollution Control Law is very broad and gives the State Air Pollution Control Board considerable latitude in developing regulations. Along with the Administrative Process Act, it addresses general development and processing of regulations. It generally provides minimal guidance on the content of the regulations or other substantive aspects of programs.
Together with state law, the federal Clean Air Act and its implementing regulations provide the authority for the department to develop air quality programs mandated at the federal level. They usually specify, in great detail, the requirements for an air quality program. State air quality programs developed under the authority of the federal Clean Air Act must be approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Virginia's State Implementation Plan
EPA requires that each state submit a state implementation plan or SIP to show how air pollution will be reduced to levels at or below the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS). The plan must demonstrate how the state will maintain air pollution at the reduced levels. If a state does not submit an acceptable plan or does not develop a plan at all, EPA can develop and implement a plan, and can impose sanctions.
Virginia's SIP was submitted to EPA in early 1972. The SIP is a living document--hundreds of revisions have been made to the plan since its original submittal. The plan consists mostly of regulations, as well as permits, emissions inventories, attainment demonstrations, and other related documentation. 40 CFR Part 51 and Appendix V to Part 51 provide specific detail on what states are to include in their SIPs, and how they are to be submitted.
The overall process of SIP development:
- Examine air quality across the state.
- Delineate areas where air quality needs improvement.
- Determine the degree of improvement necessary.
- Inventory the sources contributing to the problem.
- Develop a control strategy to reduce emissions.
- Implement the strategy.
- Ensure that air quality standards are not violated in the future.
Where can I get a copy of the SIP?
The SIP consists of hundreds of documents. If you need to review a portion of the SIP, your request must be as specific as possible, including Federal Register citations and dates.
How do I find out the approval status of parts of the SIP?
EPA actions on Virginia's SIP are summarized in Subpart VV of 40 CFR Part 52. EPA Region III maintains a web site of current SIP-approved regulations; however, Virginia does not provide any quality control oversight and is not responsible for any errors. If you need more detailed or current information, contact a member of our staff.
Virginia's Control Strategy
The control strategy is the heart of the SIP. It describes the emission reduction measures to be used by the state to attain and maintain the air quality standards.
There are three basic types of control strategy measures:
- Stationary source control measures, which limit emissions primarily from commercial/industrial facilities and operations.
- Mobile source control measures which limit tailpipe and other emissions primarily from motor vehicles, and include federal motor vehicle emission standards, fuel volatility limits, reformulated gasoline, emissions control system anti-tampering program, and the Inspection and Maintenance program.
- Transportation control measures, which limit the location and use of motor vehicles, and include carpools, special bus lanes, rapid transit, commuter park and ride lots, bicycle lanes, and signal system improvements. These are generally included as commitments in plans, and do not require individual regulations.