In the United States, the federal Clean Air Act of 1970 authorizes the federal government and states to regulate air emissions from “stationary sources.” Since the majority of industrial climate pollutants originate from “stationary sources,” these provisions of the Clean Air Act allow direct regulation of industrial emissions.
The Clean Air Act also allows states to “grant” their authority to “political subdivisions thereof,” which are most often state-level or regional air pollution agencies (see Air Pollution Agencies). Nevertheless, local governments can indirectly minimize or limit industrial emissions. The primary focus of this sector’s actions relies on the direct capability of regional air pollution agencies and the indirect capability of local governments to minimize or restrict industrial emissions.
Since the majority of industrial climate pollutants originate from stationary sources in most states, police powers are delegated to local governmental jurisdictions, and allow cities or counties to pass general laws for the preservation of public health and safety. Such general laws apply to the entire city or county and special laws are applicable to particular localities, highways, rivers, and streets within the limits of the jurisdiction’s territory. Thus, local governments have a large degree of autonomy to regulate land use to preserve public health and safety within their jurisdictions.
Furthermore, all states give local governments the power to enact zoning regulations. For example, these powers may be used to guide the siting of renewable energy projects. They may also be used to limit the expansion of fossil fuel refining operations, urban oil drilling, retail fueling stations, and other industrial uses of local lands.