|The goal of the Air Quality group is to maintain good
air quality in Nebraska. By developing and enforcing air
quality laws and regulations we have been able to keep
air pollution at low levels.
The Nebraska air regulations are primarily based on
regulations developed by the Environmental Protection
Agency (EPA) to address the Clean Air Act requirements.
The Clean Air Act gives the EPA authority to establish
national ambient air quality standards, or NAAQS.
Ambient air is the air humans have access to outdoors
and doesn’t include air on private property.
These standards are based on each pollutant’s effects on
our health and environment. The pollutants covered by
NAAQS are termed criteria pollutants because their
standards are based on criteria specific to each of
them. There are NAAQS for particulate matter less than
10 microns in diameter, particulate matter less than 2.5
microns in diameter, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide,
carbon monoxide, ozone, and lead.
The EPA also has the authority to regulate toxic or
hazardous air pollutants not covered by NAAQS. EPA has
established national emission standards for hazardous
air pollutants. These standards establish emission
limits or control technology requirements for specific
source categories or industries.
Before Nebraska can implement and enforce EPA’s laws,
air quality regulations must be developed for the state.
Our authority to develop regulations comes from the
Clean Air Act and the Nebraska Environmental Protection
Act (NEPA). The state may develop and enforce rules that
are more stringent than federal laws and regulations but
cannot make rules that are less stringent. Nebraska air
quality regulations are found in Title 129 of the
Nebraska Administrative Code.
The Air Quality Division’s goal is to maintain the
ambient air quality standards, to protect the quality of
the air in areas of the state that have air cleaner than
the standards, and to implement air quality rules and
regulations. By fulfilling these objectives, the
Department is confident that public health and the
environment will be adequately protected.
The Air Quality Division fulfills these objectives
through implementing various programs. We operate an
extensive ambient air monitoring program to measure the
ambient air quality and determine if we are achieving
and maintaining the NAAQS.
The Program Planning and Development Unit develops and
proposes new and revised regulations to the
Environmental Quality Council. Title 129 is updated
regularly to keep up with ever changing federal
Air quality permits are the primary tool we use to
implement the air quality regulations. Before businesses
construct a unit that emits regulated pollutants, they
have to determine if the potential emissions from that
unit will exceed the thresholds in the Nebraska air
quality regulations. If they do, then they’ll need a
We also issue operating permits based on a source’s
level of emissions. An operating permit will incorporate
all of a source’s requirements into one permit,
including all construction permit limitations and
federal regulations. Operating permits usually require
additional monitoring, stack testing, reporting, and
Other parts of our division ensure compliance with air
permits and regulations by conducting inspections,
providing assistance and outreach, responding to
complaints, verifying stack test data, gathering actual
emissions data annually, and, when necessary, carrying
out enforcement actions.
NDEE is headquartered in Lincoln and has six regional
field offices located throughout the state. Our field
offices provide better public access to NDEE, reduce
response time to citizen complaints, and allow the
agency to have a better understanding of local issues.
Our field office staff conduct compliance inspections,
complaint investigations, sampling, monitoring, and
outreach activities for almost all of our regulatory
Three of the field office inspectors, located in
Holdrege, Norfolk, & North Platte, have assignments
to conduct work for the Air Quality Division. They
participate in the same training, meetings, and other
compliance program activities as the Lincoln-based Air
Three local agencies -- the Lincoln/Lancaster County
Health Department, the Omaha Air Quality Control, and
the Douglas County Health Department, have accepted
through contract with the NDEE, responsibility for
various facets of the program. These responsibilities
include air quality monitoring, planning, permitting and
enforcement within their areas of jurisdiction.
If you would like more information about the local air
programs, you can visit their websites or contact them
by phone. The Lancaster County Health Department’s
website ishttps://www.lincoln.ne.gov/City/Departments/Health-Department *
and the phone number is (402) 441-8040. The City of
Omaha’s website ishttps://www.cityofomaha.org/ *
and the air program’s number is (402) 444-6015. For
information about the Douglas county ambient air
monitoring, you can contact them at (402) 444-6162.