August 2013: Air Permits, Part Two

July 2013: Air Permits, Part Two

This is the eleventh article in a series about air quality in general and how it applies to Indiana. This continues the discussion on operating permits and approvals issued by IDEM’s Office of Air Quality.

In "Air Permits, Part One", the last Air Quality 101 article, it was explained that many facilities with one or more units that emit gasses or fine particles need to obtain an approval from IDEM to construct and operate those units. Whether a new facility needs to get an approval from IDEM, and what level of approval is needed (such as a registration or one of three types of permits), depends on the potential emissions from a facility’s units.

The last bi-weekly article also explained that a unit or units with a very low potential to emit (PTE) may be altogether exempt from needing an approval. IDEM may issue a Letter of Exemption in these cases, which verifies there are no construction conditions to be met. The Registrations Thresholds Table was presented, explaining that a registration is required for facilities when the PTE falls within a certain range.

It was also explained that facilities with PTE above the maximum thresholds in the Registration Thresholds Table need to apply for either a Minor Source Operating Permit (MSOP) or a federally-enforceable State Operating Permit (FESOP). For very large sources with even higher potential emissions, a higher level operating permit is required. This is called a Title V permit.

Title V permits are required when a facility’s PTE is calculated to be at or above the thresholds in the Title V Thresholds for Major Sources table, provided here:

Title V Thresholds for Major Sources
Type of Pollutant Title V (Major Source) Potential to Emit Threshold (in Tons Per Year)
Volatile organic compounds (VOCs)
(Related to ozone formation)
100 TPY
25 TPY in severe nonattainment areas
Nitrogen dioxide and oxides of nitrogen (NOX)
(Related to ozone formation)
100 TPY
Sulfur dioxide 100 TPY
Carbon monoxide 100 TPY
PM-10 (Particulate matter smaller than 10 microns) 100 TPY
PM-2.5 (Particulate matter smaller than 2.5 microns) 100 TPY
Lead 100 TPY
10 TPY for secondary lead smelters
A single hazardous air pollutant (HAP) 10 TPY
A combination of HAPs 25 TPY
Greenhouse Gases (GHGs) 100,000 TPY as CO2 equivalents (CO2e)

About the MSOP, FESOP and Title V Operating Permit Programs

All three operating permits issued by IDEM—MSOPs, FESOPs and Title V permits—will include all air pollution requirements that apply to the source, including emissions limits, and monitoring and record keeping requirements. Operating permits may also require that facilities provide certain reports and records to IDEM. Sources are subject to site inspections by IDEM compliance and enforcement staff, to verify that they are in compliance with these operating permits.

Title V permits are the most detailed and complex permits that IDEM issues. They get their name because they are required under Title V of the federal Clean Air Act. These permits are also called Part 70 Operating Permits, because the regulations that establish minimum standards for state permit programs are found in Title 40, part 70 of Code of Federal Regulations (40 CFR 70).

Approvals and permits must comply with state and federal requirements, and IDEM routinely consults with U.S. EPA concerning requirements under federal regulations. A formal public notice by U.S. EPA is part of the decision making process for all Title V permits.

The initial MSOP and FESOP permit issued to a source must be renewed within five years, and then every 10 years thereafter. All Title V operating permits must be renewed every five years. In all cases, the permit renewal process ensures that facilities have up to date permits, with conditions and requirements that are based on current operations and current regulations.

Where an expansion or new installation is planned at an existing, permitted facility, IDEM will need to review and approve the project before any work can begin. In most of these cases, the facility will need to submit an application to IDEM for its operating permit to be modified, as well. Even if a permit has been amended or modified, the expiration date remains dependent on the original or renewal permit issuance date.

About the Permit-by-Rule and Source Specific Operating Agreement Programs

MSOPs, FESOPs and Title V permits contain conditions that address the specific, and often unique, activities of the facility being permitted. The terms and conditions for the facility to operate, to monitor emissions, and to report to IDEM are tailored to the unique activities of the business. It needs to be noted that there are some businesses whose potential emissions are above the registration thresholds but whose operations are so small and basic that compliance requirements are covered sufficiently in state rules. In many of these cases, sources can operate under a program called Permit-by-Rule, instead of an operating permit. Grain elevators, grain milling operations and gasoline dispensing operations are examples of operations that may be eligible for the Permit-by-Rule program.

There are other businesses whose operations are small and basic, and an individual permit is not needed to outline their compliance requirements. In these cases, IDEM will instead issue another type of low level approval called a Source Specific Operating Agreement (SSOA). Surface coating operations and sand and gravel operations are two examples of businesses that may be eligible for a SSOA.

Both Permit-by-Rule and SSOAs remain in effect indefinitely, provided the facility does not change the way it operates the units or add additional emission units that would change the applicability of these rules. Changes in operations may result in a need for the facility to obtain an operating permit instead of a SSOA.

Construction permits are required for some, but not all, facilities that are eligible to operate under a Permit-by-Rule or SSOA.

The Indiana Legislative Service Agency website provides specific rules (326 IAC 2 [PDF]) on each of the Office of Air Quality’s approval and permitting programs discussed here:

  • 326 IAC 2-1.1-3 for Exemptions (Under Rule 1.1 for General Provisions)
  • 326 IAC 2-5.5 for Registrations (Under Rule 5.5)
  • 326 IAC 2-6.1 for the Minor Source Operating Permit program (Under Rule 6.1)
  • 326 IAC 2-7 for the Part 70 Permit Program (Title V) (Under Rule 7)
  • 326 IAC 2-8 for the Federally Enforceable State Operating Permit Program (Under Rule 8)
  • 326 IAC 2-9 for the Source Specific Operating Agreement program (Under Rule 9)
  • 326 IAC 2-10 for Permit by Rule (Under Rule 10)
  • 326 IAC 2-11 for Permit by Rule for Specific Source Categories (Under Rule 11)

The U.S. EPA provides information on Title 40, Code of Federal Regulations (40 CFR).

Keith Baugues