Focus On Air
Air Quality

The primary goal of the Air Quality Program is to keep air pollution at low levels and maintain good air quality in Nebraska by developing and enforcing air quality laws and regulations.

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 defined as the air humans have access to outdoors and doesn't include air on private property.

The pollutants covered by NAAQS are termed criteria pollutants because their standards are based on specific criteria on how each pollutant effects on our health and environment. Currently there are NAAQS for particulate matter less than 10 microns in diameter (PM10), particulate matter less than 2.5 microns in diameter (PM2.5), sulfur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen oxide (NOx), carbon monoxide (CO), ozone, and lead.

The EPA also has the authority to regulate toxic or hazardous air pollutants (HAPs) 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.

Nebraska regulations
Before Nebraska can implement and enforce EPA’s regulations, air quality requirements must be developed for the state. Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy's (NDEE) authority to develop regulations comes from the Clean Air Act and the Nebraska Environmental Protection Act (NEPA). Nebraska 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 Program’s goal is to maintain the ambient air quality standards, to protect the quality of the air in Nebraska and to implement air quality rules and regulations. By fulfilling these objectives, NDEE is confident that public health and the environment will be adequately protected.

The Air Quality Program fulfills these objectives through implementing various programs. NDEE operates an extensive ambient air monitoring program to measure the ambient air quality and determine if we are achieving and maintaining the NAAQS.

The Legal Services Division along with the Air Quality Program develops and proposes new and revised regulations to the Environmental Quality Council (EQC). Title 129 is updated regularly to keep up with ever changing federal regulations. The current version of Title 129 is available on the agency's Rules and Regulations Page. Those permitted under the former version of Title 129 may want to understand where the previous Title references in their permits can now be found in the current version of Title 129. As such, a crosswalk and a Powerpoint describing revisions and the superseded version of Title 129 (to be used for reference purposes) are available on the Title 129 - Nebraska Air Quality Regulations Update and Crosswalk webpage.

Air quality permits are the primary tool we use to implement the air quality regulations. Before businesses can construct a unit that emits regulated pollutants, they need to determine if the potential emissions from that unit will exceed the permitting thresholds in the Nebraska air quality regulations. If they do, then they’ll need a construction permit prior to constructing the unit.

NDEE also issues 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, emissions testing, reporting, and recordkeeping.

The Compliance and Inspection Division's Air Compliance Section ensure compliance with air permits and regulations by conducting inspections, providing assistance and outreach, responding to complaints, gathering actual emissions data annually, and, when necessary, carrying out enforcement actions.

Headquarters and Regional field offices
NDEE is headquartered in Lincoln and has three regional field offices. 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 programs.

The Compliance and Inspection Division's Air Compliance Section have staff in the Norfolk and North Platte areas. They participate in the same training, meetings, and other compliance program activities as the Lincoln-based Air Quality inspectors.

Local Agencies
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 * and the phone number is (402) 441-8040. The City of Omaha’s  website * and their air program’s phone number is (402) 444-6015.

For information about the Douglas county ambient air monitoring, you can contact them at (402) 444-6162.

More information
Air Quality Publications, Forms, & Applications

Title 129 – Air Quality Regulations

Emission Fee Appropriations Report

Subscribe to the AirNews Listserv

Air Compendium
As part of its efforts for continuous improvement, NDEE has developed a Compendium consolidating various historical policies and regulatory decisions made by NDEE into one comprehensive archive accessible to the regulated community. Compendium entries will be continually updated as more policies are developed and as more regulatory decisions are made. Currently, the Compendium contains air quality related information.

The Air Compendium *

The Air Compendium instructions *