DNR's Air Permit Improvement Initiative
The Air Permit Improvement Initiative (APII) was created in 2003 by the
Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and Secretary Scott Hassett, and requires
the agency to streamline its air permit program while maintaining environmental
standards. The creation of APII stemmed from growing concerns about the
significant time and effort needed to produce an air permit, and whether
that time and effort actually and consistently resulted in measurable environmental
benefit. In addition, 2003 Wisconsin Act 118 required changes in Wisconsin's
air permit program. To date, APII has made significant progress in two areas:
developing rules for registration and general permits, and establishing
greater public awareness.
The DNR has been developing rules and guidelines for a new type of permit
called a registration permit. This type of permit is popular in many states
to supplement their permit programs. There would be two categories of
registration permits in Wisconsin, operation and construction. For a business
to qualify for either one, it must keep emissions below certain limits.
Some states, such as Minnesota and Michigan, long ago turned to 'registration'
permits that allow small emitters to quickly register themselves for a
permit in return for keeping emissions low. Businesses typically receive
the permit within two weeks. Minnesota has issued over 1,900 registration
permits since its program's inception.
Benefits of a registration permit include quick turnaround times freeing
up DNR time to draft more complicated permits, and allowing companies
to proceed quickly with construction. The permit language will be predictable,
offering companies a sense of certainty. Once an application is received,
the Department would have a 15-day review time frame for both registration
permits (operation and construction).
Registration Operation Permit
To be eligible for a registration operation permit, the DNR is proposing
that a facility cap emissions at 25 tons per year - twenty five percent
(25%) of major source threshold - of criteria pollutants with lower thresholds
in non-attainment areas. In addition, the facility must stay below 2.5
tons per year of each federal hazardous air pollutant (HAP) and 6.26 tons
per year of all HAPs combined. This type of permit would allow facilities
to make modifications or add equipment without applying for a construction
permit as long as the facility's emissions stay below the emission caps
and the changes can meet applicable requirements.
Registration Construction Permits
This type of registration permit would be available to all sources, major
and minor, if the facility maintains certain thresholds for the emission
unit(s) to be constructed or modified. The registration construction permits
would expire as requirements are transferred to an operation permit.
In addition to revising its permit regulations to establish criteria for
registration permits, the DNR is also proposing to revise its permit regulations
for "general" type permits. The DNR already has the authority to issue
a standard off-the-shelf type of permit, or "general" operation permit,
for similar types of sources already operating such as rock crushing plants,
ethylene oxide sterilizers, and small heating units. The proposed rule
revisions would allow the DNR to develop a general construction permit
that could be used for similar new or modified construction projects.
During fall of 2004, the DNR held public hearings on draft rules for establishing
registration permits and modifying the use of general permits for similar
type sources. This winter, more meetings with industry, trade and environmental
advocacy groups were held. Another public hearing was held on March 3,
2005 in Madison. DNR hopes to take this proposed rule to the Natural Resources
Board for adoption at the board's April meeting.
For further information on the proposed rules, please contact Caroline
Garber at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For technical information regarding registration and general permits,
please contact Dave Minkey at email@example.com.
To see the proposed rules, please visit the state
administrative rule website.
- Thomas Coogan
The newsletter is issued electronically every other month.
Please send comments or questions to Barbro McGinn, editor.