Clean Air  

Clean Air Act Title V Permits

The 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments Title V established a federal operating permit system administered by the states.  Title V permits are designed to gather all existing, federally enforceable laws and regulations into one permit.  Federally enforceable laws include all EPA regulations and any state and local regulations approved by the EPA.  The State Implementation Plan (SIP) embodies all EPA-approved state regulations.  A state regulation is not part of the SIP and not federally enforceable until it is submitted to and approved by the EPA.  EPA approval allows enforcement by federal agencies and by citizens under the Clean Air Act.  

Title V Permits must include: 1) CAA requirements applicable to the source 2) a schedule for compliance 3) monitoring and reporting requirements. The two types of air regulations are ambient standards and emission standards.  

National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) have been set for six pollutants: particulate matter, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, ozone, and lead (PM-10, SO2, NOx, CO, O3, and Pb).  They are typically expressed in parts per million (ppm) or micrograms per cubic meter (ug/m3).  Each pollutant has a primary standard based on public health protection and a secondary standard based on public well-being, ie, esthetic and economic effects such as visibility and damage to agriculture.  

Emission standards regulate industrial sources and are written in terms of grams/minute or kilograms of pollutant per ton of product for specific pollutants from specific sources.  New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) limit PM-10, SO2, NOx, CO, O3, and Pb and apply to facilities built after a certain date.  National Emission standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAPs) are supposed to control 189 air toxics, e.g. mercury, vinyl chloride, and benzene, listed in the CAAA Title III which cause "serious irreversible or incapacitating reversible illness."      


The draft permit will contain general conditions which are included in 40 CFR 70 and any conditions approved by the EPA under the state SIP.  These conditions include the permit duration, duty to comply, permit modifications, provision of information, claims of confidential information, compliance certification, reporting and recordkeeping requirements, schedule of compliance, fees, and emissions trading.  

The draft permit must contain a statement of basis which contains information about decisions made by the permitting agency and which allows any interested citizen to effectively review the permit.  The statement should explain decisions about monitoring of the facility for compliance.

The permit application forms the basis for the Title V permit and contains important information not found in the draft permit.  The application contains a description of the facility, the types of fuel burned and amounts of pollution emitted, a description of all applicable requirements, a compliance certification stating whether the facility is complying with regulations and the methods for determining compliance, a certification of truthfulness, and a compliance plan.   

If the Title V permit application contains a compliance schedule, it indicates the facility has a history of problems with existing regulations.  Applications can be submitted years before permits are drafted, but permits must contain up-to-date compliance schedules.  If a consent order has been issued, the terms must be included in the permit.  Under no circumstances may a compliance schedule sanction non-compliance with an applicable requirement.  

Permit conditions must be practically enforceable, that is, they must make it possible to determine whether a plant is complying with the rules.  The permit must clearly explain how the requirements apply to the facility.  If you cannot tell what the facility is required to do to comply with permit limits, it is not practically enforceable.  With limited exceptions, a facility must comply with regulations at all times.  The public may use any credible evidence to show a facility is violating its permit.  Evidence may include air sampling tests taken at the property line of the facility.  

Documents for Review of Title V Permits

Draft Permit - Now available at state websites  

Permit Application - Contains description of facility, applicable requirements and certification of compliance.  It is a large document available at central state office and regional offices where the plant is located.  

Existing permit - State air permit includes possible PSS, New Source Review limits/requirements, and any previous Title V permits.  

Notices of Violation - Dates and types of violations, fines, consent orders  

Inspection Records - Contains descriptions of plant process, monitoring methods, problems, and borderline violations  

Monitoring Reports -  Frequency and types of monitoring, patterns of non-compliance  

Stack Tests - Test results and conclusions can indicate how well a plant operates within requirements.  

Correspondence Files - Letters between EPA, state, and facility owner/operator.  Disputes, resolutions, recommendations, and plan English descriptions in these files can give a quick assessment of possible permitting problems.

BREDL comments on various Title V permits