EPA's Delegation of Responsibilities To Prevent Significant Deterioration of Air Quality:

How Is It Working?

RCED-85-73: Published: Apr 4, 1985. Publicly Released: May 7, 1985.

Additional Materials:


Hugh J. Wessinger
(202) 275-5489


Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800

In response to a congressional request, GAO described Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) efforts in six states to delegate the operational responsibilities of the Prevention of Significant Deterioration Program (PSD) established by the Clean Air Act to state agencies.

GAO found that the EPA review process before delegation provided EPA adequate information to make its delegation decisions. Further, GAO found no significant differences in levels of effort between EPA and the states in carrying out their PSD activities. GAO found that state agencies had placed about the same or more emphasis on preconstruction review processing steps than had the EPA regions. In addition, two states took significantly less time than EPA to complete their preconstruction reviews and issue their PSD permits. GAO found that the state agencies' efforts to maintain emissions inventories varied by state, from no formalized inventory in two states to detailed computerized inventories of major and minor pollution sources in three states. In addition, GAO found that the frequency of state inspections varied considerably from the EPA annual inspection criterion. EPA performs two types of annual audits that encompass all aspects of delegated air pollution control programs, including PSD. Further, EPA periodically reviews a sample of the states' PSD application and permit files and inspects some of the operating PSD sources to measure each state agency's performance. GAO found that those mechanisms afford EPA ample opportunity to monitor the state agencies after PSD delegation. However, two of the three EPA regions GAO reviewed had not updated their Compliance Data System, which was designed to assist them in their oversight activities. As a result, the status of air pollution control activities in those regions was not current.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: Because of the differences in priority given the Compliance Data System by EPA Regions II, IV, and VIII, the Administrator of EPA should reevaluate the importance of the system as an oversight tool for all air pollution control programs and, if warranted, give the Compliance Data System the priority needed to keep the information current and uniform in all EPA regions.

    Agency Affected: Environmental Protection Agency


Explore the full database of GAO's Open Recommendations »

Mar 12, 2018

Feb 22, 2018

Jan 26, 2018

Jan 19, 2018

Jan 4, 2018

Dec 22, 2017

Dec 13, 2017

Nov 15, 2017

Nov 2, 2017

Oct 30, 2017

Looking for more? Browse all our products here