A Guide to the Clean Air Act New Source Review Permit Requirements, Process, and Compliance

The Clean Air Act New Source Review (NSR) permit program is a critical component of the U.S. air quality management framework, designed to protect public health and the environment from the adverse effects of air pollution. This comprehensive guide delves into the intricacies of the NSR permit process, providing essential information and practical guidance for navigating the complexities of this vital environmental regulation. Readers will gain a deep understanding of the regulatory context, applicability criteria, and permit requirements for both Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) and Nonattainment New Source Review (NNSR) permits. The guide also explores the latest technological solutions for streamlining permit compliance, featuring an in-depth look at Transect, an innovative all-in-one environmental due diligence platform. With a strong emphasis on best practices for permit application preparation, public participation, and post-permit compliance management, this resource equips readers with the knowledge and tools needed to successfully obtain and maintain NSR permits while minimizing project risks and delays.

GENERAL INFORMATION

New Source Review Permit Key Details

Issuing Agency: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

Year Established: As part of the 1977 amendments to the Clean Air Act.1

Legal References: Title I, Parts C and D of the Clean Air Act, implemented through regulations at 40 C.F.R. 51.165, 51.166, 52.21, 52.24, and Part 51, Appendix S.2

Date Last Amended: The 2002 NSR Reform Rule made several changes to the program's applicability and implementation.3

Permit Types: Two distinct types of permits: Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) permits for attainment areas and Nonattainment NSR (NNSR) permits for nonattainment areas.4

Clean Air Act New Source Review (NSR) Permit Overview

The Clean Air Act New Source Review (NSR) permit program is a preconstruction permitting program that requires industrial facilities to install modern pollution control equipment when they are built or when making a change that increases emissions significantly. The NSR program is part of the broader regulatory framework established by the Clean Air Act, which aims to protect public health and the environment from harmful air pollutants. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is responsible for implementing the NSR program, in partnership with state, local, and tribal air pollution control agencies.

The NSR program was established as part of the 1977 amendments to the Clean Air Act and has evolved over time through subsequent amendments and regulatory changes. The program includes two distinct types of permits: Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) permits for areas that meet national ambient air quality standards (attainment areas) and Nonattainment NSR (NNSR) permits for areas that do not meet these standards (nonattainment areas). The PSD program aims to prevent significant deterioration of air quality in attainment areas, while the NNSR program requires more stringent pollution controls in nonattainment areas to help them come into compliance with air quality standards.

Which Resources Are Regulated By New Source Review Permit?

The Clean Air Act New Source Review (NSR) permit program regulates air quality by controlling emissions of air pollutants from industrial facilities. The NSR program protects air quality in two ways:

  1. In attainment areas, the Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) program ensures that new emissions do not cause significant degradation of air quality. The PSD program applies to six "criteria pollutants": particulate matter, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, ozone, and lead. As stated in the Clean Air Act, the PSD program's purpose is "to protect public health and welfare from any actual or potential adverse effect which in the Administrator's judgment may reasonably be anticipate[d] to occur from air pollution."5

  2. In nonattainment areas, the Nonattainment NSR (NNSR) program requires industrial facilities to install the most stringent pollution controls, known as the Lowest Achievable Emission Rate (LAER), to help these areas attain national ambient air quality standards. The NNSR program applies to the specific pollutants for which an area is designated as nonattainment. The Clean Air Act states that NNSR permits must ensure "that the proposed source is required to comply with the lowest achievable emission rate" for the nonattainment pollutants.6

PROJECT APPLICABILITY & REQUIREMENTS

When New Source Review Permits Are Required

The Clean Air Act New Source Review (NSR) permit program requires industrial facilities to obtain a permit before constructing a new facility or making modifications to an existing facility that would result in a significant increase in emissions. The specific activities and thresholds that trigger the need for an NSR permit depend on the type of facility, the pollutants emitted, and the area's attainment status for national ambient air quality standards.

Activity/ActionEnvironmental ConsiderationsPotential Impacts
Construction of a new major stationary sourceEmissions of regulated air pollutants above significant thresholdsDegradation of air quality in attainment areas; interference with attainment of air quality standards in nonattainment areas
Major modification of an existing major stationary sourceSignificant net emissions increase of regulated air pollutantsDegradation of air quality in attainment areas; interference with attainment of air quality standards in nonattainment areas
Construction or modification of a minor source in a nonattainment areaEmissions of nonattainment pollutants above significance thresholdsInterference with attainment of air quality standards in nonattainment areas

The specific thresholds for determining whether a source is "major" and whether a modification is "significant" vary depending on the pollutant and the area's attainment status. For example, in attainment areas, a new source is considered major if it has the potential to emit 250 tons per year or more of any regulated pollutant, while in nonattainment areas, the threshold is lower and varies by pollutant.7

Clean Air Act New Source Review Permit Exemptions

While the Clean Air Act New Source Review (NSR) permit program applies to a wide range of industrial facilities and activities, certain projects and emissions sources are exempt from the permit requirements. These exemptions are designed to allow for minor projects and routine maintenance, repair, and replacement activities that do not result in significant emissions increases.

Specific exemptions from NSR permitting include:

  1. Routine maintenance, repair, and replacement: Activities that are routine for a source category, do not result in a significant net emissions increase, and do not constitute a reconstruction of the source.8

  2. Temporary clean coal technology demonstration projects: Projects that demonstrate the potential for improved emissions control from coal-fired power plants, provided they meet specific requirements and do not cause or contribute to a violation of air quality standards.9

  3. Pollution control projects: Projects that reduce emissions of regulated pollutants, provided they do not cause a significant net increase in representative actual annual emissions.10

  4. Exemptions for nonprofit health or education institutions: Certain modifications at nonprofit health or education institutions that would otherwise be subject to NSR may be exempt if they meet specific requirements.11

To determine if a project qualifies for an exemption, developers should carefully review the specific requirements and limitations associated with each exemption and consult with the relevant regulatory agency (EPA or state/local air pollution control agency) to confirm the applicability of an exemption to their project. Agencies can provide guidance on interpreting the exemptions and may request additional information to verify that a project meets the exemption criteria.

Types of New Source Review Permits

Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) permits (Part C)

Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) permits are required for new major sources or major modifications at existing sources for pollutants where the area the source is located is in attainment or unclassifiable with the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS).12 The main purpose of the PSD program is to prevent significant deterioration of air quality in areas that meet the NAAQS, while ensuring that economic growth can continue in a manner consistent with the preservation of clean air resources.

Key requirements of the PSD program include:

  • Installation of the Best Available Control Technology (BACT)
  • Air quality analysis
  • Additional impacts analysis
  • Public involvement

Developers and environmental consultants involved in large-scale greenfield projects in attainment areas must be aware of the PSD permit requirements and plan accordingly. The PSD permit application process can be complex and time-consuming, requiring extensive air quality modeling, BACT analysis, and public participation. Early consultation with the permitting agency and thorough preparation of the permit application materials can help streamline the process and avoid delays.

Nonattainment New Source Review (NNSR) permits (Part D)

Nonattainment New Source Review (NNSR) permits are required for new major sources or major modifications at existing sources for pollutants where the area the source is located is not in attainment with the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS).13 The main purpose of the NNSR program is to help areas achieve attainment of the NAAQS by requiring new or modified sources to offset their emissions increases and install the most stringent emissions controls.

Key requirements of the NNSR program include:

  • Installation of the Lowest Achievable Emission Rate (LAER) technology
  • Emission offsets
  • Alternatives analysis
  • Public involvement

For developers and environmental consultants working on projects in nonattainment areas, the NNSR permit requirements can be a significant hurdle. The LAER requirement is more stringent than the BACT requirement under PSD, and securing emission offsets can be challenging and costly. Early planning and consultation with the permitting agency are essential to navigating the NNSR permit process successfully.

PERMIT APPLICATION & PROCESS

New Source Review Permit Pre-Application Considerations & Planning

Diagram of New Source Review Permit Pre-Application Considerations & Planning
Diagram of New Source Review Permit Pre-Application Considerations & Planning

The New Source Review (NSR) permit process typically involves several key phases and milestones, from the initial determination of NSR applicability to the final permit decision. Early planning and consideration of the NSR permit requirements are essential to ensure that the permit process aligns with the overall project timeline and does not result in delays or unexpected costs.

Key milestones in the NSR permit process include:

  1. Determining NSR applicability
  2. Pre-application consultation with the permitting agency
  3. Preparation of permit application materials
  4. Submission of the permit application
  5. Agency review of the application
  6. Public comment period
  7. Final permit decision

The NSR permit process should be initiated as early as possible in the project life cycle, ideally during the conceptual design phase. This allows the project proponent to incorporate any necessary emissions controls or design changes identified during the permit process into the project plans. The pre-application consultation with the permitting agency is a critical step that can help identify potential issues and ensure that the application materials are complete and well-prepared.

Project Life Cycle and NSR Permit Touchpoints:

Conceptual Design -> Pre-Application Meeting -> Detailed Design -> Permit Application Preparation -> Permit Application Submission -> Agency Review -> Public Comment -> Permit Decision -> Construction -> Startup and Operation

New Source Review Application Requirements & Submission

A complete New Source Review (NSR) permit application must include a variety of forms, documentation, plans, and other materials that demonstrate the project's compliance with NSR requirements. The specific application requirements vary depending on the permitting agency and the type of NSR permit (PSD or NNSR) but generally include the following key components:

  1. Permit application forms: Standard forms that provide basic information about the applicant, the project, and the emissions sources.14

  2. Process description and flow diagram: A detailed description of the production processes and equipment, including a flow diagram that shows the movement of materials and the points of emissions generation.15

  3. Emissions calculations: Detailed calculations of the potential and projected actual emissions from each regulated pollutant source, including the methodology and assumptions used.16

  4. Best Available Control Technology (BACT) or Lowest Achievable Emission Rate (LAER) analysis: An analysis of the available emissions control technologies and a justification for the selected control measures.17

  5. Air quality impact analysis: An assessment of the project's impact on ambient air quality, including dispersion modeling results and a comparison to applicable air quality standards and increments.18

  6. Additional impacts analysis (PSD only): An evaluation of the project's potential impacts on visibility, soils, and vegetation.19

  7. Emissions offsets (NNSR only): A demonstration that the project has secured sufficient emissions offsets to meet NNSR requirements.20

These application components aim to provide the permitting agency with a comprehensive understanding of the project's emissions, control measures, and potential environmental impacts. The information submitted in the application is used to determine whether the project meets the applicable NSR requirements and whether a permit should be issued.

The NSR Review & Decision Process

The ideal timing for initiating the New Source Review (NSR) permit process is during the conceptual design phase of the project. This allows the project proponent to incorporate any necessary emissions controls or design changes identified during the permit process into the project plans, avoiding potential delays or costly retrofits later in the project life cycle.

The NSR permit review and decision process typically follows these chronological steps:

  1. Pre-application consultation: The project proponent meets with the permitting agency to discuss the project, identify applicable requirements, and review the application materials needed.21

  2. Application submission: The project proponent submits a complete NSR permit application to the permitting agency.

  3. Completeness determination: The permitting agency reviews the application to determine whether it is complete and requests additional information if needed. This step typically takes 30 to 60 days.22

  4. Technical review: The permitting agency conducts a detailed technical review of the application, including the emissions calculations, BACT/LAER analysis, and air quality impact assessment. This step can take several months, depending on the complexity of the project.23

  5. Draft permit and public comment: If the permitting agency determines that the project meets NSR requirements, it issues a draft permit for public review and comment. The public comment period typically lasts 30 to 60 days.24

  6. Final permit decision: After considering any public comments received, the permitting agency makes a final decision to issue or deny the NSR permit. If issued, the permit will include specific conditions and requirements that the project must meet.25

The key approval criteria for an NSR permit include:

  • Demonstrating that the project will not cause or contribute to a violation of air quality standards or increments
  • Applying the appropriate emissions control technology (BACT for PSD, LAER for NNSR)
  • Securing necessary emissions offsets (for NNSR)
  • Completing the required air quality impact analyses and additional impacts analyses (for PSD)

New Source Review Public Participation & Stakeholder Engagement

Public participation is an essential component of the New Source Review (NSR) permit process, providing an opportunity for stakeholders to review and comment on the proposed project and its potential environmental impacts. The permitting agency is required to provide public notice of the draft NSR permit and allow for a public comment period, typically lasting 30 to 60 days.26

During the public comment period, stakeholders can submit written comments on the draft permit and the project's compliance with NSR requirements. The permitting agency may also hold a public hearing to allow for oral comments, particularly if there is significant public interest or concern about the project.27

The permitting agency is obligated to consider all substantive comments received during the public comment period and to provide written responses to these comments. If the comments result in significant changes to the draft permit, the agency may need to reopen the public comment period to allow for additional input.28

Public participation in the NSR permit process is important for several reasons:

  • It allows stakeholders to voice their concerns and provide local knowledge and perspective on the project's potential impacts.
  • It helps to ensure that the permitting agency has considered all relevant information and issues in making its permit decision.
  • It promotes transparency and accountability in the permitting process.
  • It can help to build public trust and support for the project.

Project proponents should view public participation as an opportunity to engage with stakeholders, address concerns, and build support for the project. Early and proactive communication with the community, including informational meetings and outreach materials, can help to identify and resolve potential issues before the formal public comment period begins.

Common Challenges and Pitfalls in the New Source Review Permit Process

Project proponents may encounter several common challenges and pitfalls during the New Source Review (NSR) permit process, including:

  1. Underestimating the time and resources needed: The NSR permit process can be lengthy and complex, requiring significant time and resources to prepare the application materials and respond to agency requests for additional information. Project proponents should budget sufficient time and resources for the permit process and prioritize the permit application in the project schedule.29

  2. Incomplete or inadequate application materials: Submitting an incomplete or inadequate permit application can result in delays as the permitting agency requests additional information or clarification. Project proponents should carefully review the application requirements and ensure that all necessary documentation and analyses are included in the initial submission.30

  3. Failing to identify and address potential public concerns: Neglecting to engage with stakeholders and address potential public concerns early in the process can lead to significant opposition and delays during the public comment period. Project proponents should proactively communicate with the community and work to address any concerns or issues raised.31

  4. Not allowing for flexibility in project design: The NSR permit process may identify the need for additional emissions controls or design changes to meet permit requirements. Project proponents should build flexibility into the project design and budget to accommodate any necessary modifications identified during the permit process.32

To avoid these challenges and pitfalls, project proponents should:

  • Engage experienced environmental consultants and legal counsel to guide them through the NSR permit process
  • Initiate the permit process early in the project life cycle and prioritize the permit application in the project schedule
  • Conduct thorough pre-application planning and preparation to ensure that the application materials are complete and well-organized
  • Proactively engage with stakeholders and the community to identify and address potential concerns
  • Build flexibility into the project design and budget to accommodate any necessary changes identified during the permit process
  • Maintain open communication with the permitting agency throughout the process to address any issues or requests for additional information promptly

By following these best practices and learning from the experiences of other projects, project proponents can navigate the NSR permit process more smoothly and avoid costly delays or setbacks.

TECHNOLOGY SOLUTIONS FOR PERMIT COMPLIANCE

Leveraging Technology for Clean Air Act New Source Review Permit Compliance

Technology plays a crucial role in streamlining and enhancing compliance with the Clean Air Act New Source Review (NSR) permit requirements. By leveraging data management, site assessment, and monitoring tools, project proponents can improve efficiency, accuracy, and transparency in the permit compliance process.33

Some of the key benefits of using technology for NSR permit compliance include:34

  • Automated data collection and analysis, reducing the risk of errors and omissions
  • Real-time monitoring and reporting of emissions and other permit conditions
  • Centralized data storage and access, facilitating collaboration and information sharing
  • Improved documentation and recordkeeping, supporting audits and inspections
  • Enhanced visualization and communication of compliance status and trends
  • Proactive identification and resolution of potential compliance issues

Common tools and platforms used in the industry for NSR permit compliance include:35

Tool/PlatformDescriptionBenefits
Environmental Management Information Systems (EMIS)Integrated software systems that manage environmental data, documents, and processesCentralized data management, automated reporting, and improved collaboration
Continuous Emission Monitoring Systems (CEMS)Automated systems that continuously measure and record emissions from stationary sourcesReal-time emission monitoring, improved data accuracy, and compliance assurance
Air Dispersion Modeling SoftwareComputer programs that simulate the transport and dispersion of air pollutants from emission sourcesImproved understanding of potential air quality impacts, support for permit applications and compliance demonstrations
Geographic Information Systems (GIS)Software systems that capture, store, analyze, and display geospatial dataEnhanced site assessment, visualization of environmental constraints, and support for permit planning and compliance

By leveraging these and other technologies, project proponents can streamline their NSR permit compliance efforts, reduce costs and delays, and ensure ongoing compliance with permit requirements.

Transect: An Innovative Solution for Site Selection & Environmental Due Diligence

Transect is an all-in-one environmental due diligence solution that combines software knowledge with hands-on field experience to revolutionize site selection and permitting for industries such as solar, wind, renewable energy, and more. By providing a comprehensive suite of tools and services, Transect helps developers and permit applicants streamline their processes, reduce costs and delays, and ensure ongoing compliance with environmental permit requirements, including the Clean Air Act New Source Review (NSR) permit.[^303]

Key features and benefits of Transect include:[^304]

  • Swift site pinpointing and suitability analysis: Transect's advanced geospatial analysis tools allow users to quickly identify and evaluate potential project sites based on a wide range of environmental, technical, and socioeconomic criteria. This helps developers focus their efforts on the most suitable sites, reducing the risk of delays and complications later in the permitting process.

  • Real-time data updates and critical issues identification: Transect integrates real-time data from various sources, including environmental databases, remote sensing imagery, and field surveys, to provide users with the most up-to-date and accurate information about potential project sites. The software's intelligent algorithms and rule-based systems help identify critical issues and constraints early in the site selection process, allowing developers to proactively address them and avoid costly delays.

  • Versatility across multiple industries and project types: Transect is designed to support a wide range of industries and project types, including solar, wind, renewable energy, transmission lines, and more. The software's flexible and modular architecture allows users to customize their analyses and workflows to meet the specific requirements of their projects and the NSR permit process.

  • User-friendly interface and intuitive workflow: Transect features a user-friendly interface and intuitive workflow that guides users through the site selection and permitting process step-by-step. The software's interactive visualizations and reporting tools help users understand and communicate complex environmental data and permit requirements to stakeholders and decision-makers.

  • Efficiency gains and cost savings compared to traditional methods: By automating and streamlining key aspects of the site selection and permitting process, Transect helps developers and permit applicants save time and reduce costs compared to traditional methods. The software's collaborative features and centralized data management capabilities also facilitate coordination and information sharing among project team members, further enhancing efficiency and productivity.

  • Proactive risk mitigation and compliance assurance: Transect's advanced analytics and reporting tools help users identify and mitigate potential risks and compliance issues early in the site selection and permitting process. By providing a comprehensive and up-to-date view of environmental constraints and permit requirements, the software helps developers and permit applicants proactively address potential challenges and ensure ongoing compliance with the NSR permit and other environmental regulations.

Transect's unique capabilities can help developers and permit applicants streamline their site selection and permitting processes, reduce costs and delays, and ensure ongoing compliance with NSR permit requirements. By leveraging the software's advanced features and expert support services, users can accelerate their projects, minimize environmental impacts, and achieve their development goals more efficiently and effectively.

POST-PERMIT COMPLIANCE & MANAGEMENT

New Source Review Permit Conditions & Compliance Obligations

A Clean Air Act New Source Review (NSR) permit typically includes a range of conditions and requirements that the permit holder must adhere to in order to maintain compliance. These conditions are designed to minimize the environmental impacts of the permitted facility and ensure that it operates in accordance with applicable regulations and standards.[^400]

Some common conditions and requirements attached to an NSR permit include:36

  • Emission Limits: The permit will specify the maximum allowable emission rates for regulated pollutants, based on the applicable Best Available Control Technology (BACT) or Lowest Achievable Emission Rate (LAER) standards. The permit holder must ensure that the facility's emissions remain within these limits at all times.

  • Monitoring and Testing: The permit will require the installation and operation of continuous emission monitoring systems (CEMS) or other approved monitoring methods to measure and record the facility's emissions. The permit holder must conduct periodic performance tests to demonstrate compliance with emission limits and standards.

  • Recordkeeping and Reporting: The permit will specify the types of records that the permit holder must maintain, such as emission data, operating logs, and maintenance records. The permit holder must submit regular reports to the permitting authority, documenting the facility's compliance status and any deviations from permit conditions.

  • Mitigation Measures: The permit may require the implementation of specific mitigation measures to minimize the environmental impacts of the facility, such as the installation of additional pollution control equipment, the use of cleaner fuels or production processes, or the acquisition of emission offsets.

  • Compliance Certifications: The permit holder must submit annual compliance certifications to the permitting authority, attesting to the facility's compliance with all applicable permit conditions and regulations.

Understanding and adhering to these conditions is critical for maintaining compliance with an NSR permit. Failure to comply with permit conditions can result in enforcement actions, penalties, and damage to the permit holder's reputation. Permit holders should develop and implement robust compliance management systems, including regular inspections, training, and audits, to ensure ongoing compliance with permit conditions.37

New Source Review Monitoring, Reporting & Recordkeeping Requirements

Clean Air Act New Source Review (NSR) permits include ongoing monitoring, reporting, and recordkeeping requirements to ensure that permitted facilities operate in compliance with applicable regulations and permit conditions. These requirements are designed to provide transparency and accountability in the facility's environmental performance and to enable the permitting authority to verify compliance.38

Monitoring requirements typically include:39

  • Continuous Emission Monitoring Systems (CEMS): Many NSR permits require the installation and operation of CEMS to continuously measure and record the facility's emissions of regulated pollutants. CEMS data must be collected, quality-assured, and reported to the permitting authority in accordance with specified procedures and timelines.

  • Periodic Performance Tests: NSR permits may require the permit holder to conduct periodic performance tests to demonstrate compliance with emission limits and standards. These tests must be conducted using approved methods and procedures, and the results must be reported to the permitting authority.

Reporting requirements typically include:40

  • Quarterly Excess Emission Reports: Permit holders must submit quarterly reports to the permitting authority, documenting any instances of excess emissions or deviations from permit conditions. These reports must include the cause of the excess emissions, the corrective actions taken, and the steps taken to prevent future occurrences.

  • Annual Compliance Certifications: Permit holders must submit annual compliance certifications to the permitting authority, attesting to the facility's compliance with all applicable permit conditions and regulations. These certifications must include a statement of the facility's compliance status, as well as any instances of non-compliance and the corrective actions taken.

Recordkeeping requirements typically include:41

  • Emission Data: Permit holders must maintain records of all emission data, including CEMS data, performance test results, and other relevant information. These records must be retained for a specified period, typically five years or more.

  • Operating Logs: Permit holders must maintain records of the facility's operating parameters, such as production rates, fuel usage, and control equipment settings. These records must be retained for a specified period and made available to the permitting authority upon request.

  • Maintenance Records: Permit holders must maintain records of all maintenance activities performed on the facility's emission control equipment and monitoring systems. These records must be retained for a specified period and made available to the permitting authority upon request.

Accurate and timely reporting and recordkeeping are essential for demonstrating compliance with NSR permit conditions. Permit holders should develop and implement robust data management systems and procedures to ensure that all required data is collected, quality-assured, and reported in accordance with permit requirements. Failure to comply with monitoring, reporting, and recordkeeping requirements can result in enforcement actions and penalties.42

Enforcement and Penalties for Non-Compliance with New Source Review Permit

Non-compliance with Clean Air Act New Source Review (NSR) permit conditions can result in a range of enforcement actions and penalties, depending on the nature and severity of the violation. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and state permitting authorities have the authority to enforce NSR permit requirements and take action against violators to ensure compliance and protect public health and the environment.43

Potential consequences of non-compliance with NSR permit conditions include:44

  • Administrative Penalties: The EPA or state permitting authority may assess administrative penalties for violations of NSR permit conditions. These penalties can include fines of up to $37,500 per day per violation, as well as the recovery of any economic benefit gained from the violation.

  • Civil Fines: The EPA may seek civil fines through the federal court system for violations of NSR permit conditions. These fines can be up to $37,500 per day per violation, and may be assessed in addition to any administrative penalties.

  • Criminal Charges: In cases of knowing or willful violations of NSR permit conditions, the EPA may pursue criminal charges against the responsible individuals or organizations. Criminal penalties can include fines of up to $250,000 per day per violation for individuals, or up to $500,000 per day per violation for organizations, as well as imprisonment for up to five years.

  • Permit Revocation: In cases of severe or repeated violations of NSR permit conditions, the permitting authority may revoke the facility's permit, effectively shutting down its operations until the violations are corrected and a new permit is obtained.

Some common violations that can result in enforcement actions and penalties include:45

  • Exceeding emission limits or operating without required pollution control equipment
  • Failing to install, operate, or maintain required monitoring systems or conduct required performance tests
  • Failing to submit required reports or maintain required records
  • Making false statements or representations in permit applications, reports, or certifications

To mitigate the risks of enforcement actions and penalties, permit holders should take prompt corrective action to address any instances of non-compliance and communicate proactively with the permitting authority. Developing and implementing a robust compliance management system, including regular inspections, training, and audits, can help prevent violations and ensure ongoing compliance with NSR permit conditions.46

If a violation does occur, permit holders should take immediate steps to document the incident, investigate the cause, and implement corrective actions to prevent future occurrences. Proactive self-disclosure of violations and cooperation with the permitting authority can help demonstrate good faith and may result in reduced penalties or more favorable settlement terms.47

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES & UPDATES

Example of New Source Review Permit in Action

Hypothetical Scenario: Expansion of a Manufacturing Facility

An automotive parts manufacturer plans to expand its existing facility in a nonattainment area for ozone. The expansion will increase the facility's emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and nitrogen oxides (NOx), triggering the need for a Nonattainment New Source Review (NNSR) permit. To navigate the permitting process successfully, the manufacturer should consider the following best practices:48

  1. Early Planning: Engage with the permitting authority early in the project planning process to identify NNSR requirements and develop a permitting strategy.

  2. Emission Offsets: Secure sufficient emission offsets to ensure a net reduction in VOC and NOx emissions in the nonattainment area.

  3. Lowest Achievable Emission Rate (LAER): Conduct a thorough LAER analysis to identify the most stringent emission control technologies for the expanded facility.

  4. Compliance Assurance: Develop a robust compliance plan, including monitoring, recordkeeping, and reporting procedures, to ensure ongoing compliance with NNSR permit conditions.

By following these best practices, the manufacturer can increase the likelihood of obtaining an NNSR permit and achieving compliance with air quality regulations.

Recent Changes & Updates to Clean Air Act New Source Review Permit

In recent years, there have been several notable changes and updates to the Clean Air Act New Source Review (NSR) permit program, including:49

  1. Project Emissions Accounting Rule (March 2020): This rule clarified that both emissions increases and decreases resulting from a proposed project must be considered when determining whether NSR permitting requirements apply. The rule aims to provide more flexibility and regulatory certainty for sources undergoing modifications.

  2. Guidance on Significant Impact Levels (SILs) for Ozone and Fine Particles (April 2018): This guidance provided recommended SILs for ozone and fine particulate matter (PM2.5) to help permitting authorities determine whether a proposed source or modification will have a significant impact on air quality and require a more detailed air quality analysis.

  3. Revisions to the Guideline on Air Quality Models (January 2017): This rule updated the preferred air quality models and modeling techniques for NSR permitting, including the use of the AERMOD modeling system for near-field dispersion modeling and the incorporation of prognostic meteorological data.

These changes and updates reflect the ongoing efforts of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and state permitting authorities to streamline and clarify the NSR permitting process while maintaining public health and environmental protections.

Additional Resources & Information

The following resources provide additional information and guidance on the Clean Air Act New Source Review (NSR) permit program:

  1. EPA NSR Permitting Website: https://www.epa.gov/nsr - This website serves as a central hub for information on the NSR permitting program, including regulatory updates, guidance documents, and technical resources.

  2. NSR Workshop Manual: https://www.epa.gov/nsr/nsr-workshop-manual - This comprehensive manual provides detailed information on the NSR permitting process, including applicability determinations, control technology reviews, air quality analysis, and permit content.

  3. State and Local Permitting Agencies: https://www.epa.gov/nsr/state-and-local-permitting-agencies - This directory provides contact information for state and local permitting agencies, which are responsible for implementing the NSR program in their jurisdictions.

  4. RACT/BACT/LAER Clearinghouse (RBLC): https://www.epa.gov/catc/ractbactlaer-clearinghouse-rblc - The RBLC is a database of emission control technology determinations made by permitting authorities across the country, which can serve as a valuable resource for identifying BACT and LAER options for NSR permits.

  5. Air Quality Modeling Guidelines: https://www.epa.gov/scram/air-quality-models - This website provides information on the latest air quality modeling guidelines and tools for NSR permitting, including the AERMOD modeling system and the Guideline on Air Quality Models (Appendix W to 40 CFR Part 51).

These resources can help permit applicants, environmental consultants, and other stakeholders navigate the complex world of NSR permitting and ensure compliance with Clean Air Act regulations.

REFERENCES

  1. Clean Air Act Amendments of 1977, Pub. L. No. 95-95, 91 Stat. 685 (codified as amended at 42 U.S.C. §§ 7401-7671q).

  2. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. (2021). New Source Review (NSR) Permitting. https://www.epa.gov/nsr

  3. Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) and Non-Attainment New Source Review (NSR): Baseline Emissions Determination, Actual-to-Future-Actual Methodology, Plantwide Applicability Limitations, Clean Units, Pollution Control Projects, 67 Fed. Reg. 80,186 (Dec. 31, 2002) (codified at 40 C.F.R. pts. 51 and 52).

  4. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. (2021). Learn About New Source Review. https://www.epa.gov/nsr/learn-about-new-source-review

  5. 42 U.S.C. § 7470(1).

  6. 42 U.S.C. § 7503(a)(2).

  7. 40 C.F.R. §§ 51.165(a)(1)(iv), 51.166(b)(1), 52.21(b)(1).

  8. 40 C.F.R. §§ 51.165(a)(1)(v)(C), 51.166(b)(2)(iii), 52.21(b)(2)(iii).

  9. 40 C.F.R. §§ 51.165(a)(1)(xxv), 51.166(b)(36), 52.21(b)(36).

  10. 40 C.F.R. §§ 51.165(a)(1)(xxv), 51.166(b)(31), 52.21(b)(31).

  11. 40 C.F.R. §§ 51.165(a)(1)(vi)(C)(4), 51.166(i)(1)(iv), 52.21(i)(1)(vi).

  12. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. (2021). Prevention of Significant Deterioration Basic Information. https://www.epa.gov/nsr/prevention-significant-deterioration-basic-information

  13. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. (2021). Nonattainment NSR Basic Information. https://www.epa.gov/nsr/nonattainment-nsr-basic-information

  14. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. (1990). New Source Review Workshop Manual: Prevention of Significant Deterioration and Nonattainment Area Permitting. https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2015-07/documents/1990wman.pdf

  15. Id.

  16. Id.

  17. Id.

  18. Id.

  19. Id.

  20. Id.

  21. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. (2021). NSR Permitting Process. https://www.epa.gov/nsr/nsr-permitting-process

  22. Id.

  23. Id.

  24. Id.

  25. Id.

  26. 40 C.F.R. §§ 51.166(q), 52.21(q), 51.165(a)(5).

  27. Id.

  28. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. (1990). New Source Review Workshop Manual: Prevention of Significant Deterioration and Nonattainment Area Permitting. https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2015-07/documents/1990wman.pdf

  29. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. (2021). NSR Permitting Process. https://www.epa.gov/nsr/nsr-permitting-process

  30. Id.

  31. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. (1990). New Source Review Workshop Manual: Prevention of Significant Deterioration and Nonattainment Area Permitting. https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2015-07/documents/1990wman.pdf

  32. Id.

  33. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. (n.d.). Environmental Compliance Tools and Resources https://www.epa.gov/compliance/environmental-compliance-tools-and-resources on April 23, 2023.

  34. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. (n.d.). Benefits of Environmental Management Systems https://www.epa.gov/ems/benefits-environmental-management-systems on April 23, 2023.

  35. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. (n.d.). Air Pollution Technology Tools and Resources https://www.epa.gov/air-pollution-technology-tools-and-resources on April 23, 2023.

  36. 40 C.F.R. § 51.165(a), 40 C.F.R. § 51.166(r), 40 C.F.R. § 52.21(r).

  37. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. (n.d.). Compliance Monitoring https://www.epa.gov/compliance/compliance-monitoring on April 23, 2023.

  38. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. (n.d.). Monitoring, Recordkeeping, and Reporting for NSR Permits https://www.epa.gov/nsr/monitoring-recordkeeping-and-reporting-nsr-permits on April 23, 2023.

  39. 40 C.F.R. § 64.3, 40 C.F.R. § 70.6(a)(3)(i)(A).

  40. 40 C.F.R. § 70.6(a)(3)(iii), 40 C.F.R. § 71.6(a)(3)(iii).

  41. 40 C.F.R. § 70.6(a)(3)(ii), 40 C.F.R. § 71.6(a)(3)(ii).

  42. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. (n.d.). Recordkeeping and Reporting Requirements for Stationary Sources https://www.epa.gov/compliance/recordkeeping-and-reporting-requirements-stationary-sources on April 23, 2023.

  43. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. (n.d.). Enforcement https://www.epa.gov/enforcement on April 23, 2023.

  44. Clean Air Act § 113, 42 U.S.C. § 7413.

  45. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. (n.d.). Air Enforcement https://www.epa.gov/enforcement/air-enforcement on April 23, 2023.

  46. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. (n.d.). Compliance Assistance https://www.epa.gov/compliance/compliance-assistance on April 23, 2023.

  47. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. (n.d.). Enforcement Policy, Guidance, and Publications https://www.epa.gov/enforcement/enforcement-policy-guidance-publications on April 23, 2023.

  48. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. (n.d.). Best Practices for Permit Applications https://www.epa.gov/nsr/best-practices-permit-applications on April 23, 2023.

  49. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. (n.d.). NSR Regulatory Actions https://www.epa.gov/nsr/nsr-regulatory-actions on April 23, 2023.

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A Note to Our Readers: We hope this guide is a valuable resource in helping you better understand the NNSR Permit. However, it's not a substitute for professional advice and doesn't cover every scenario. Always consult with regulatory bodies and professionals for the most current advice and project-specific guidance.