Region 1: EPA New England

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Operating Permit Program?

In 1990, Congress created, under Title V of the Clean Air Act Amendments (CAAA), an operating permit program. The operating permit program requires all air pollution control requirements to be incorporated into a single document that applies to a source's everyday activities. Each state was required to submit a state Title V permitting program for EPA approval. All Region I (New England) state programs currently have approval that allows them to issue permits.

Who needs a Title V permit?

A source may be subject to Title V either because of its size (i.e., whether a source is major) or because the source is subject to existing requirements such as New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) or National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAPS.) A source is defined as major depending on the type and amount of air pollutants it emits and the overall air quality in its vicinity. A geographic area that meets or does better than the air quality standard is an "attainment" area. An area that does not meet the standard is a "nonattainment" area. More sources in nonattainment areas are required to obtain a permit due to the threshold for being major is smaller than in an attainment area.

What pollutants are emitted by facilities needing an operating permit?

Facilities requiring a permit, emit Nitrogen Oxides, Volatile Organic Compounds, Sulfur Dioxide, Particulate Matter, Carbon Monoxide and/or Toxic Air Pollutants.

What is the public review and comment procedure?

One of the key features of the operating permit program is the requirement for public comment. The requirement for public comment includes a minimum period of thirty days for public comment plus the opportunity to hold and receive comment at a public hearing. The final permit issued must consider the comments received through this process. A public notice must be published in a newspaper of general circulation in the area where the source is located or in a State publication designed to give general public notice for each draft permit. Title V also requires that any contiguous state whose air quality may be affected, or any state within fifty miles of the facility be notified of the intent to issue a permit. The issuing state must respond to comments from an affected state, or explain to EPA its reason for not doing so.

What is meant by public petition?

The public petition process is a way of resolving important public comments that a state fails to fully address. If a person who comments during the public comment period believes their comment was not addressed by the state, they can petition the EPA Administrator to address the issue. A petition to the Administrator must be filed within 60 days of the end of EPA's review period and must be on an issue raised during the public comment period. The start of the 60 day period can vary for each permit. If a person needs to file a petition to EPA they should immediately contact the permitting program at EPA's regional office. For sources located in New England please call 617.918.1650.

What is compliance certification?

The compliance certification tells EPA, the permitting authority, and the public if the facility is violating any of the terms of its permit. These terms include emission limits, monitoring, record keeping, and reporting requirements. Any application form or report needs to contain a certification by a responsible official of truth, accuracy, and completeness.

A responsible official is someone in upper management that has the authority to influence the day-to-day operations of the facility.

What is streamlining of permit conditions?

Often, a facility must comply with two or more similar requirements. Both conditions can be separately placed in the permit along with its associated monitoring, or to avoid confusion, both requirements can be merged into one permit condition that complies with both requirements. Guidance can be found in the form of "White Paper 2 " (PDF) (46 pp, 117 K, about PDF) that has strategies for streamlining permit conditions.

How does EPA object to a permit?

When EPA reviews a Title V permit, it provides comments to the state or local permitting authority on ways to improve the permit and changes that must be made before the permit can be issued. If EPA determines the proposed permit does not assure compliance with applicable requirements or the requirements of part 70 (EPA's regulations that implement Title V), the Agency will object to the issuance of the permit during its 45 day review period. If EPA objects to a permit, the permitting authority has 90 days to revise the permit and make the corrections requested by EPA. If the permitting authority fails to do this, EPA becomes the permitting authority and issues a federal permit. If a state already has issued a permit, EPA will void that permit during the process.