Before you begin operating a new source of air pollution in Pennsylvania, you may need an air permit. This permit is a regulatory document that is legally enforceable at both federal and State levels. It covers all sources of air pollution, process equipment and air cleaning devices at a facility. In addition, the permit lists applicable rules and requirements pertaining to each source, along with operating requirements, emission limits, stack information and monitoring requirements within a facility.
The process of obtaining an air permit in PA basically consists of two main steps. First, you will need to obtain a construction permit or “plan approval” from the PA Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP) to begin any construction, installation, or modification to a facility. Some sources may be specifically exempt under 25 Pa. Code 127.14 or can be determined by DEP to be of Minor Significance. To obtain this determination, a facility should submit a Request for Determination (RFD) to the PADEP through the online portal at DEP Greenport. If the DEP denies the RFD, you will need to complete the plan approval application.
The second step once you build your facility according to the plan approval is to obtain an operating permit. You will need a State Only Operating Permit or a Title V Operating Permit, depending on the size and type of facility. These permits are generally good for five years and require a permit renewal application to be submitted 180 days before the expiration of the permit. Title V Permits are required for major facilities that have the potential to emit air pollutants over the Federal and Actual thresholds. State Only Operating Permits are for sources that are not subject to the Title V requirements but their actual emissions exceed Actual thresholds. The chart below summarizes the operating permit requirements. Please be aware that sources located in Allegheny and Philadelphia Counties may be subject to different permitting requirements, as sources in those counties are regulated by the Allegheny County Air Quality program and Philadelphia Air Management Service, respectively.
Plan approvals and operating permits could take 6-9 months or longer to be issued by the DEP. If you plan on constructing a new source or a new facility that has the potential to emit air pollutants, don’t delay submitting the appropriate application. The potential for violations and penalties increases every day that a source operates without a plan approval or operating permit.