Department of Energy & Environment

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Air Quality Inspections, Investigations, and Enforcement

DOEE regularly inspects facilities with pollution permits to ensure compliance with District air quality regulations. Since it is not possible to catch all violations during inspections, we also conduct investigations in response to citizens' complaints.

The following are examples of violations DOEE has discovered from constituent calls:

  • Excess smoke from smokestacks
  • Tour buses and trucks idling longer than permissible (See Engine Anti-Idling Law)
  • Noxious odors from various sites
  • Unpermitted equipment requiring air quality permits (See Air Quality Regulations)

To file an air quality complaint about harmful levels of smoke, odor, dust, or other potential outdoor air quality violation, sumbit an Air Quality Complaint.

Enforcement Action

When we observe air quality violations during inspections or investigations, we take action. Generally, DOEE uses three enforcement tools:

  • Notice of violation (NOVs) - A warning letter for minor or first-time violations that identifies the violation as well as actions that must be taken to return to compliance.
  • Civil infraction ticket - A ticket issued for relatively minor violations, or when immediate response is required. The respondent may either admit the violation by paying a fine, admit the violation by submitting an explanation, or deny the violation. In cases where a respondent admits with explanation or denies the violation, a hearing is held before an Administrative Law Judge in the District of Columbia's Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH).
  • Administrative orders - An administrative order is drafted and executed when violations are more serious, persistent, and/or on-going. While administrative orders take longer to issue, they are formal legal documents that have serious legal consequences. Sources that fail to comply with an administrative order are subject to the imposition of fine up to $10,000 per day and/or imprisonment of 90 days.


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