A Guide to the Clean Air Act PSD Permit Requirements, Process, and Compliance

The Clean Air Act Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) permit is a critical and complex component of the environmental regulatory framework for large-scale development projects. This comprehensive guide delves into the intricacies of the PSD permit process, providing essential insights and practical strategies for navigating the permitting landscape. From understanding the regulatory context and permit requirements to leveraging innovative technology solutions like Transect for streamlined site selection and due diligence, this resource equips stakeholders with the knowledge and tools needed to effectively manage PSD permit compliance. With a strong emphasis on proactive planning, stakeholder engagement, and staying informed about recent regulatory changes, this guide serves as an indispensable roadmap for successfully obtaining and maintaining a PSD permit while promoting sustainable and responsible project development.

GENERAL INFORMATION

PSD Key Details

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

Year Established: 1977

Legal References: Clean Air Act (CAA) Amendments of 1977, 42 U.S.C. §7401 et seq.; 40 C.F.R. §52.21

Date Last Amended: 2022

Other Key Facts:

  • Stands for "Prevention of Significant Deterioration"
  • Applies to 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)

Clean Air Act Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) Permit Overview

The Clean Air Act Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) permit program is a preconstruction permitting program designed to protect air quality in areas that meet or exceed the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS). Established as part of the 1977 amendments to the Clean Air Act (CAA), the PSD program is administered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in partnership with state, local, and tribal air agencies.

The PSD program aims to prevent degradation of air quality in attainment areas by requiring new major sources or major modifications at existing sources to implement Best Available Control Technology (BACT) and conduct air quality analysis to demonstrate that the project will not cause or contribute to a violation of the NAAQS or applicable PSD increments. Over time, the PSD program has evolved to incorporate new pollutants, update control technology requirements, and streamline the permitting process.

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 anticipated to occur from air pollution." 42 U.S.C. §7470(1)

Which Resources Are Regulated By PSD?

The Clean Air Act PSD permit program regulates air quality and aims to protect human health and the environment from the adverse effects of air pollution. Specifically, the PSD program focuses on six criteria air pollutants:

  1. Particulate Matter (PM10 and PM2.5)
  2. Sulfur Dioxide (SO2)
  3. Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2)
  4. Carbon Monoxide (CO)
  5. Ozone (O3)
  6. Lead (Pb)

The PSD permit requires new major sources or major modifications at existing sources to implement Best Available Control Technology (BACT) for these pollutants and conduct air quality analysis to ensure that the project will not cause or contribute to a violation of the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) or applicable PSD increments. By limiting emissions and requiring the use of advanced control technologies, the PSD program helps protect air quality and public health in areas that meet or exceed the NAAQS.

PROJECT APPLICABILITY & REQUIREMENTS

When PSD Permits Are Required

The Clean Air Act Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) permit is required for certain types of projects that have the potential to emit significant amounts of regulated air pollutants in areas that are in attainment or unclassifiable with the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS). The following table outlines the types of activities and environmental considerations that trigger the need for a PSD permit:

Activity/ActionEnvironmental Considerations
Construction of a new major stationary sourcePotential to emit significant amounts of regulated air pollutants, such as particulate matter, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, ozone, or lead
Major modification of an existing major stationary sourceSignificant net emissions increase of a regulated pollutant from the modification
Construction or modification of a major source in an attainment or unclassifiable areaPotential to cause or contribute to a violation of the NAAQS or applicable PSD increments

As stated in the Code of Federal Regulations, "No major emitting facility on which construction is commenced after August 7, 1977, may be constructed in any area to which this part applies unless: (1) A permit has been issued for such proposed facility in accordance with this part setting forth emission limitations for such facility..." 40 C.F.R. §52.21(i)(1)

PSD Permit Exemptions

While the Clean Air Act PSD permit program applies to a wide range of projects, certain activities and emissions sources are exempt from the permit requirements. These exemptions are designed to reduce the regulatory burden on smaller or less impactful projects while still maintaining the overall effectiveness of the PSD program.

The specific exemptions from the PSD permit requirements include:

  1. Nonprofit health or education institutions: Emissions sources owned or operated by nonprofit health or educational institutions are exempt from the PSD permit requirements. 40 C.F.R. §52.21(i)(1)

  2. Portable stationary sources: Portable stationary sources, such as temporary generators or mobile asphalt plants, are exempt from the PSD permit requirements if they have previously received a permit under the PSD program and will not remain at a location for more than 24 months. 40 C.F.R. §52.21(i)(1)(i)

  3. Nonroad engines: Engines that are not used in conjunction with a specific location, such as mobile construction equipment or agricultural machinery, are exempt from the PSD permit requirements. 40 C.F.R. §52.21(b)(1)(iii)

To determine if a project qualifies for an exemption, developers and environmental consultants should carefully review the specific criteria and conditions outlined in the PSD regulations. It is recommended to consult with the relevant regulatory agency, such as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) or the appropriate state or local air quality agency, to confirm the applicability of an exemption and ensure compliance with all relevant requirements.

Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) Permit

The PSD permit is required for new major sources or major modifications at existing sources in attainment or unclassifiable areas. Its main purpose is to prevent significant deterioration of air quality by requiring the use of Best Available Control Technology (BACT) and conducting air quality analysis. Key requirements include demonstrating that the project will not cause or contribute to a violation of the NAAQS or applicable PSD increments. Developers must conduct a BACT analysis, air quality modeling, and public involvement during the application process. The PSD permit is a critical component of maintaining air quality in attainment areas.

Nonattainment New Source Review (NNSR) Permit

The NNSR permit is required for new major sources or major modifications at existing sources in nonattainment areas. Its main objective is to ensure that new emissions sources do not hinder progress towards attaining the NAAQS. Key requirements include the use of Lowest Achievable Emission Rate (LAER) technology, obtaining emissions offsets, and demonstrating compliance with the Nonattainment Area New Source Review (NA NSR) requirements. The NNSR permit application process involves a LAER analysis, emissions offset determination, and public participation. Obtaining an NNSR permit can be challenging due to the stringent requirements and limited availability of emissions offsets.

Minor New Source Review (Minor NSR) Permit

The Minor NSR permit is required for new or modified emissions sources that do not meet the major source threshold but still have the potential to impact air quality. Its purpose is to ensure that smaller sources do not contribute to air quality deterioration or violations of the NAAQS. Key requirements vary by state but generally include the use of control technology, air quality impact analysis, and public involvement. The Minor NSR permit application process is typically less complex than the PSD or NNSR permit processes but still requires careful planning and coordination with the appropriate regulatory agencies.

PERMIT APPLICATION & PROCESS

PSD Permit Pre-Application Considerations & Planning

The overall PSD permit process can be represented by the following flowchart:

Diagram of PSD Permit Pre-Application Considerations & Planning
Diagram of PSD Permit Pre-Application Considerations & Planning

A typical PSD permit project involves several phases and milestones, from conception to completion. The key stages include:

  1. Pre-Application: Identify the need for a PSD permit, conduct preliminary air quality modeling and BACT analysis, and engage in pre-application meetings with the permitting agency.

  2. Application Preparation: Gather required information, prepare application forms and supporting documentation, and develop air quality modeling and BACT analysis.

  3. Application Submission and Review: Submit the permit application, undergo completeness review and technical review by the permitting agency, and respond to requests for additional information.

  4. Public Participation: Participate in public notice and comment period, attend public hearings, and assist the permitting agency in responding to comments.

  5. Permit Decision: Receive final permit decision and review permit conditions and requirements.

  6. Post-Permit: Implement permit requirements, conduct monitoring and reporting, and maintain ongoing compliance.

The PSD permit process is a critical component of the overall project life cycle and can significantly influence key decisions and timelines. It is essential to initiate the permit process early in the project planning phase to allow sufficient time for application preparation, agency review, and public participation. The following text-based timeline illustrates the project life cycle and PSD permit touchpoints:

Project Conception -> Pre-Application Meeting -> Project Design -> Application Preparation -> Application Submission -> Agency Review -> Public Participation -> Permit Decision -> Construction -> Startup and Operations -> Ongoing Compliance

By integrating the PSD permit process into the project life cycle and planning for potential delays or challenges, developers can minimize the risk of project delays and ensure timely permit issuance.

PSD Application Requirements & Submission

A complete PSD permit application requires the submission of various forms, documentation, plans, and other materials to demonstrate that the proposed project will comply with all applicable requirements and will not cause or contribute to a violation of the NAAQS or PSD increments.

The key components of a PSD permit application include:

  1. Application Forms: State-specific application forms that provide general information about the project, such as facility location, ownership, and contact information.

  2. Project Description: Detailed description of the proposed project, including the nature of the operations, the types and quantities of raw materials and fuels used, and the expected production rates.

  3. Emissions Calculations: Comprehensive calculations of the potential emissions of regulated air pollutants from the proposed project, including a summary of the methodologies and assumptions used.

  4. BACT Analysis: Best Available Control Technology (BACT) analysis that demonstrates the proposed project will use the most effective and economically feasible control technologies for each regulated pollutant. 40 C.F.R. §52.21(j)

  5. Air Quality Modeling: Dispersion modeling analysis that predicts the impact of the proposed project's emissions on ambient air quality and demonstrates compliance with the NAAQS and PSD increments. 40 C.F.R. §52.21(k)

  6. Additional Impact Analyses: Analyses of the proposed project's impact on visibility, soils, vegetation, and other air quality-related values, as well as an assessment of the project's potential impact on Class I areas. 40 C.F.R. §52.21(o)

  7. Public Participation Plan: Description of the public participation process, including the planned public notice, comment period, and hearing, as well as a list of interested parties and stakeholders.

By submitting a complete and well-documented PSD permit application, project proponents can demonstrate to the permitting agency that the proposed project will meet all applicable requirements and will not cause significant deterioration of air quality.

The PSD Review & Decision Process

The ideal timing for initiating the PSD permit process is early in the project planning phase, typically after the conceptual design is complete but before detailed engineering and construction plans are developed. This allows sufficient time for pre-application meetings, application preparation, and agency review while minimizing the risk of project delays.

The chronological steps of the PSD permit review and decision process include:

  1. Pre-Application Meeting: Project proponents meet with the permitting agency to discuss the proposed project, identify applicable requirements, and outline the permit application process. 40 C.F.R. §52.21(q)

  2. Application Submission: The permit application is submitted to the permitting agency, along with all required forms, documentation, and supporting materials.

  3. Completeness Review: The permitting agency conducts a completeness review to ensure that the application contains all required information. This review typically takes 30 to 60 days. 40 C.F.R. §52.21(q)(1)

  4. Technical Review: The permitting agency conducts a thorough technical review of the application, including the BACT analysis, air quality modeling, and additional impact analyses. This review can take several months, depending on the complexity of the project.

  5. Draft Permit and Public Notice: If the permitting agency determines that the application meets all requirements, it issues a draft permit and publishes a public notice announcing the availability of the draft permit and the opportunity for public comment. 40 C.F.R. §52.21(q)(2)

  6. Public Comment Period: The public comment period typically lasts 30 to 60 days, during which interested parties can submit written comments on the draft permit. The permitting agency may also hold a public hearing if there is significant public interest. 40 C.F.R. §52.21(q)(2)

  7. Response to Comments: The permitting agency prepares a response to the comments received during the public comment period, addressing any significant issues raised and explaining any changes made to the draft permit.

  8. Final Permit Decision: The permitting agency issues a final permit decision, either approving or denying the permit application. If approved, the final permit includes all applicable requirements, conditions, and limitations. 40 C.F.R. §52.21(q)(3)

The key approval criteria for a PSD permit include demonstrating that the proposed project will:

  • Use Best Available Control Technology (BACT) for each regulated pollutant
  • Not cause or contribute to a violation of the NAAQS or PSD increments
  • Not adversely impact air quality-related values, such as visibility, in Class I areas
  • Undergo adequate public participation and review

By understanding the PSD permit review and decision process, project proponents can plan accordingly, allocate sufficient time and resources, and increase the likelihood of a successful permit outcome.

PSD Public Participation & Stakeholder Engagement

Public participation is an essential component of the PSD permitting process, as it allows interested parties to review and comment on the proposed project and its potential impacts on air quality. The permitting agency is required to provide opportunities for public input at key stages of the permit review process.

The main avenues for public participation in the PSD permit process include:

  1. Public Notice: The permitting agency must publish a public notice announcing the availability of the draft permit and the opportunity for public comment. The notice must be published in a newspaper of general circulation and may also be posted on the agency's website or distributed through other means. 40 C.F.R. §52.21(q)(2)(iii)

  2. Public Comment Period: The public comment period typically lasts 30 to 60 days, during which interested parties can submit written comments on the draft permit. Comments may address any aspect of the proposed project, including the BACT analysis, air quality modeling, and additional impact analyses. 40 C.F.R. §52.21(q)(2)(v)

  3. Public Hearing: If there is significant public interest or upon request, the permitting agency may hold a public hearing to allow oral testimony on the draft permit. The hearing must be announced at least 30 days in advance and must provide an opportunity for all interested parties to participate. 40 C.F.R. §52.21(q)(2)(vi)

The permitting agency is obligated to consider and respond to all substantive comments received during the public comment period. The agency must prepare a written response to comments, addressing each significant issue raised and explaining any changes made to the draft permit as a result of the comments. 40 C.F.R. §52.21(q)(2)(viii)

Public participation is critical to the PSD permit process, as it ensures transparency, accountability, and the consideration of diverse perspectives. By actively engaging in the public comment process, project proponents can build trust with stakeholders, identify potential concerns early on, and work collaboratively to address any issues raised.

To facilitate effective public participation, project proponents should:

  • Develop a comprehensive public participation plan that outlines the strategies and timelines for engaging stakeholders
  • Provide clear, accessible information about the proposed project and its potential impacts
  • Proactively reach out to interested parties, including local communities, environmental organizations, and industry groups
  • Attend public hearings and be prepared to respond to questions and concerns
  • Work collaboratively with the permitting agency to address substantive comments and resolve any outstanding issues

By prioritizing public participation and stakeholder engagement, project proponents can build support for their projects, minimize the risk of legal challenges, and ensure that the PSD permit process serves its intended purpose of protecting air quality and public health.

Common Challenges and Pitfalls in the PSD Permit Process

The PSD permit process can be complex and time-consuming, and project proponents may encounter various challenges and pitfalls along the way. Some common issues include:

  1. Incomplete or inadequate permit applications: Submitting an incomplete or inadequate permit application can result in significant delays, as the permitting agency will require additional information or clarification before proceeding with the review. To avoid this issue, project proponents should carefully review the application requirements, provide comprehensive and well-documented information, and engage in pre-application meetings with the permitting agency to ensure a complete and approvable application.

  2. Underestimating the time and resources required: The PSD permit process can take several months to a year or more, depending on the complexity of the project and the level of public interest. Project proponents should allocate sufficient time and resources for permit application preparation, agency review, and public participation, and should factor potential delays into their project timelines.

  3. Failing to adequately address BACT requirements: The Best Available Control Technology (BACT) analysis is a critical component of the PSD permit application, and project proponents must demonstrate that they have selected the most effective and economically feasible control technologies for each regulated pollutant. Failing to adequately address BACT requirements can result in permit denials or challenges. Project proponents should conduct thorough BACT analyses, consider a wide range of control options, and provide clear and well-supported justifications for their selected technologies.

  4. Inadequate air quality modeling: Air quality modeling is essential to demonstrating that the proposed project will not cause or contribute to a violation of the NAAQS or PSD increments. Project proponents must use approved modeling methods, accurate input data, and conservative assumptions to ensure that their modeling results are reliable and defensible. Inadequate or flawed modeling can result in permit denials or legal challenges.

  5. Underestimating the importance of public participation: Public participation is a critical component of the PSD permit process, and project proponents must be prepared to engage with stakeholders, respond to comments and concerns, and build support for their projects. Failing to adequately address public concerns or engage in meaningful dialogue can result in significant opposition, delays, or legal challenges.

To overcome these challenges and avoid common pitfalls, project proponents should:

  • Engage in early and frequent communication with the permitting agency to identify potential issues and ensure a complete and approvable application
  • Allocate sufficient time and resources for permit application preparation, agency review, and public participation
  • Conduct thorough and well-documented BACT analyses and air quality modeling
  • Develop a comprehensive public participation plan and proactively engage with stakeholders
  • Be prepared to respond to comments and concerns and work collaboratively to resolve any issues raised

By following these best practices and learning from the experiences of other projects, project proponents can navigatxe the PSD permit process more effectively and increase the likelihood of a successful permit outcome. Case studies and examples of successful PSD permit applications can provide valuable insights and lessons learned for future projects.

TECHNOLOGY SOLUTIONS FOR PERMIT COMPLIANCE

Leveraging Technology for PSD Permit Compliance

Technology plays a crucial role in streamlining and enhancing the PSD permit compliance process by providing powerful tools for data management, site assessment, and monitoring. By leveraging advanced software and platforms, project proponents can improve efficiency, accuracy, and transparency throughout the permit lifecycle.

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

  • Automated data collection and analysis, reducing manual errors and saving time
  • Centralized data storage and accessibility, facilitating collaboration and information sharing
  • Real-time monitoring and reporting, enabling proactive compliance management
  • Improved data visualization and insights, supporting better decision-making and problem-solving
  • Enhanced transparency and accountability, building trust with stakeholders and regulators

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

Tool/PlatformDescriptionBenefits
Environmental Management Information Systems (EMIS)Comprehensive software platforms that integrate data management, reporting, and compliance tracking functionsStreamlines data collection, analysis, and reporting; enables proactive compliance management; provides a centralized repository for all permit-related information
Geographic Information Systems (GIS)Mapping and spatial analysis tools that enable site assessment, modeling, and visualizationFacilitates site selection, impact analysis, and permit application development; provides powerful data visualization and communication capabilities
Continuous Emissions Monitoring Systems (CEMS)Automated systems that continuously measure and record emissions data from stationary sourcesEnables real-time compliance monitoring; provides accurate and reliable emissions data; supports reporting and compliance demonstration
Air Dispersion Modeling SoftwareSpecialized tools that simulate the transport and dispersion of air pollutants from emission sourcesSupports air quality impact analysis and permit application development; enables modeling of complex terrain and meteorological conditions; provides data visualization and reporting capabilities

By leveraging these and other technology solutions, project proponents can streamline their PSD permit compliance efforts, reduce costs and delays, and ensure ongoing compliance with all applicable requirements. As technology continues to evolve, new tools and platforms will emerge to further support and enhance the permit compliance process.

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

Transect is an all-in-one environmental due diligence solution that combines cutting-edge software with hands-on field experience to revolutionize site selection and permitting for industries such as solar, wind, renewable energy, and more. By integrating powerful data analytics, mapping capabilities, and expert knowledge, Transect streamlines the site selection and permitting process, enabling developers and permit applicants to make informed decisions and ensure compliance with PSD permit requirements.

Key features and benefits of Transect include:

  1. Swift site pinpointing and suitability analysis: Transect's advanced algorithms and geospatial tools enable rapid identification and assessment of potential project sites, considering a wide range of environmental, technical, and regulatory factors. This allows developers to quickly narrow down their options and focus on the most suitable locations for their projects.

  2. Real-time data updates and critical issues identification: Transect provides real-time access to the latest environmental data, regulations, and permit requirements, ensuring that project proponents have the most up-to-date information at their fingertips. The platform's intelligent alerting system flags potential issues and conflicts early in the process, enabling proactive problem-solving and risk mitigation.

  3. Versatility across multiple industries and project types: Transect's flexible and customizable framework can be adapted to the specific needs of various industries and project types, from renewable energy and infrastructure to land development and beyond. This versatility allows users to leverage Transect's capabilities across multiple projects and geographies, maximizing the value of their investment.

  4. User-friendly interface and intuitive workflow: Transect's intuitive user interface and streamlined workflow make it easy for users to navigate the platform, access relevant information, and perform complex analyses without specialized technical expertise. The platform's collaborative features also facilitate seamless communication and coordination among project team members, regulators, and stakeholders.

  5. Efficiency gains and cost savings: By automating many of the time-consuming and labor-intensive tasks associated with site selection and permitting, Transect helps developers and permit applicants reduce costs, minimize delays, and achieve faster time-to-market for their projects. The platform's data-driven insights and optimization capabilities also enable users to make more informed decisions, avoiding costly mistakes and ensuring the most efficient use of resources.

  6. Proactive risk mitigation and compliance assurance: Transect's comprehensive compliance checking and monitoring features help project proponents identify and address potential risks and issues before they become significant problems. By proactively ensuring compliance with PSD permit requirements and other applicable regulations, Transect helps developers avoid costly penalties, delays, and reputational damage.

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 PSD permit requirements. By leveraging Transect's powerful tools and expert knowledge, project proponents can navigate the complex landscape of environmental due diligence with greater confidence, efficiency, and success.

POST-PERMIT COMPLIANCE & MANAGEMENT

PSD Permit Conditions & Compliance Obligations

A PSD permit typically includes a range of conditions and requirements designed to minimize the environmental impact of the permitted project, ensure compliance with applicable regulations, and provide for ongoing monitoring and reporting. These conditions are legally binding and must be adhered to throughout the life of the project.

Common PSD permit conditions and compliance obligations include:

  1. Emissions Limits: The permit will specify maximum allowable emission rates for each regulated pollutant, based on the results of the Best Available Control Technology (BACT) analysis. The permittee must operate the facility in compliance with these limits at all times. 40 C.F.R. §52.21(j)(3)

  2. Control Technology Requirements: The permit will require the installation and operation of the air pollution control technologies identified in the BACT analysis, such as scrubbers, filters, or thermal oxidizers. The permittee must maintain and operate these controls in accordance with manufacturer specifications and good engineering practices. 40 C.F.R. §52.21(j)(3)

  3. Monitoring and Testing: The permit will specify requirements for continuous emissions monitoring systems (CEMS) or periodic performance testing to demonstrate ongoing compliance with emissions limits. The permittee must install, calibrate, and maintain all required monitoring equipment and conduct tests in accordance with approved methods. 40 C.F.R. §52.21(j)(3)

  4. Recordkeeping and Reporting: The permit will require the permittee to maintain detailed records of emissions, control device operations, monitoring data, and other compliance-related information. The permittee must submit regular reports to the permitting agency, typically on a semi-annual or annual basis, and must promptly report any deviations or exceedances. 40 C.F.R. §52.21(j)(3)

  5. Mitigation Measures: In some cases, the permit may require the implementation of additional mitigation measures to offset the project's environmental impacts, such as emissions reduction credits, habitat conservation, or community outreach programs. The permittee must execute these measures in accordance with the permit conditions and any associated mitigation plans or agreements.

  6. Permit Renewal and Modification: The permit will specify the duration of its validity, typically five to ten years, after which the permittee must apply for renewal. The permit will also outline the procedures for modifying the permit in response to changes in operations, regulations, or environmental conditions. The permittee must obtain approval from the permitting agency before making any significant modifications to the facility or its operations. 40 C.F.R. §52.21(r)

Compliance with PSD permit conditions is essential to maintain the validity of the permit and avoid enforcement actions. Permittees must thoroughly understand their obligations, implement robust compliance management systems, and proactively communicate with the permitting agency to ensure ongoing compliance. Regular internal audits, employee training, and corrective action plans can help identify and address potential compliance issues before they result in violations or penalties.

PSD Monitoring, Reporting & Recordkeeping Requirements

PSD permits include extensive monitoring, reporting, and recordkeeping requirements to ensure that permitted facilities are operating in compliance with their permit conditions and applicable regulations. These requirements are designed to provide transparency, facilitate agency oversight, and enable prompt detection and correction of any compliance issues.

Key aspects of PSD monitoring, reporting, and recordkeeping requirements include:

  1. Continuous Emissions Monitoring Systems (CEMS): Many PSD permits require the installation and operation of CEMS to continuously measure and record emissions of regulated pollutants from major sources. CEMS data must be collected, quality-assured, and reported in accordance with approved methods and permit conditions. 40 C.F.R. §52.21(j)(3)

  2. Performance Testing: PSD permits may require periodic performance tests to demonstrate compliance with emissions limits for pollutants that are not monitored by CEMS. These tests must be conducted using approved methods and under representative operating conditions. Test protocols and results must be submitted to the permitting agency for review and approval. 40 C.F.R. §52.21(j)(3)

  3. Recordkeeping: PSD permits require the maintenance of detailed records related to emissions, control device operations, monitoring data, performance tests, and other compliance-related information. These records must be kept on-site and available for inspection by the permitting agency. Record retention periods are typically five years or longer. 40 C.F.R. §52.21(j)(3)

  4. Reporting: PSD permits specify the frequency and content of required compliance reports, which must be submitted to the permitting agency on a regular basis (e.g., semi-annually or annually). These reports must include a summary of emissions data, monitoring results, performance test results, and any deviations or exceedances of permit conditions. Prompt reporting of deviations or exceedances is also required, typically within 24-48 hours of discovery. 40 C.F.R. §52.21(j)(3)

  5. Data Management: PSD permittees must implement robust data management practices to ensure the accuracy, completeness, and reliability of their compliance data. This includes regular calibration and maintenance of monitoring equipment, data validation and quality assurance procedures, and secure data storage and backup systems.

  6. Compliance Certifications: PSD permits may require the submission of annual compliance certifications, in which the permittee must certify their compliance status with each permit condition and applicable requirement. Any instances of non-compliance must be identified and explained, along with corrective actions taken or planned. 40 C.F.R. §52.21(j)(3)

Accurate and timely monitoring, reporting, and recordkeeping are critical for demonstrating ongoing compliance with PSD permit requirements and avoiding enforcement actions. Permittees must invest in the necessary personnel, equipment, and systems to ensure that they can meet these obligations consistently and effectively. Regular training, internal audits, and proactive communication with the permitting agency can help identify and address potential issues before they result in violations or penalties.

Enforcement and Penalties for Non-Compliance with PSD

Non-compliance with PSD permit conditions or other applicable requirements can result in significant enforcement actions and penalties. The Clean Air Act provides for a range of enforcement tools and sanctions to address violations, including administrative orders, civil penalties, and criminal charges.

Common types of PSD permit violations include:

  • Exceeding emissions limits or operating without required control technologies
  • Failing to install, calibrate, or maintain required monitoring equipment
  • Failing to conduct required performance tests or submit compliance reports
  • Making false statements or omissions in permit applications or compliance documents
  • Modifying or operating the facility in a manner inconsistent with the permit conditions

Enforcement actions and penalties for PSD permit violations can include:

  1. Administrative Orders: The permitting agency may issue an administrative order requiring the permittee to cease the violation, take corrective actions, and pay a penalty. Administrative penalties can be up to $37,500 per day per violation. 42 U.S.C. §7413(d)

  2. Civil Penalties: The EPA may file a civil lawsuit against the permittee seeking injunctive relief and civil penalties. Civil penalties can be up to $37,500 per day per violation, and the court may also require the permittee to take corrective actions and mitigate any environmental harm caused by the violation. 42 U.S.C. §7413(b)

  3. Criminal Charges: In cases of knowing or willful violations, the EPA may seek criminal charges against the permittee or its employees. 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. 42 U.S.C. §7413(c)

  4. Permit Revocation: The permitting agency may revoke or suspend the PSD permit in cases of severe or repeated violations, or if the permittee obtained the permit through misrepresentation or failure to disclose relevant facts. 40 C.F.R. §52.21(r)(1)

To mitigate the risks of enforcement actions and penalties, PSD permittees must prioritize compliance and proactively address any potential issues. This includes implementing robust compliance management systems, conducting regular internal audits and inspections, providing employee training and oversight, and promptly reporting and correcting any deviations or exceedances. If a violation does occur, permittees should take immediate steps to mitigate any harm, notify the permitting agency, and develop a comprehensive corrective action plan to prevent recurrence. Proactive communication and cooperation with the enforcement authorities can help demonstrate good faith and potentially reduce the severity of any penalties or sanctions.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES & UPDATES

Recent Changes & Updates to PSD Permit

The PSD permit program has undergone several significant changes and updates in recent years, driven by regulatory amendments, legal decisions, and evolving environmental policies. Some of the most notable changes include:

  1. Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Regulation: In 2010, the EPA issued the "Tailoring Rule," which required PSD permits for new and modified sources with significant GHG emissions. However, in 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Utility Air Regulatory Group v. EPA that the EPA could not require PSD permits based solely on GHG emissions. The EPA subsequently amended the PSD regulations to limit GHG permitting to sources that were already subject to PSD for other pollutants. 75 FR 31514, 134 S. Ct. 2427, 80 FR 50199

  2. PM2.5 Significant Impact Levels (SILs): In 2010, the EPA established SILs for particulate matter with a diameter of 2.5 micrometers or less (PM2.5) to streamline the air quality impact analysis for PSD permits. However, in 2013, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit vacated and remanded the PM2.5 SILs, finding that the EPA had exceeded its statutory authority. The EPA subsequently removed the PM2.5 SILs from the PSD regulations. 75 FR 64864, 78 FR 73698

  3. Ozone NAAQS Updates: In 2015, the EPA strengthened the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for ozone, lowering the primary and secondary standards from 75 parts per billion (ppb) to 70 ppb. This change triggered PSD permitting requirements for new and modified sources in areas that were newly designated as nonattainment for ozone. 80 FR 65292

  4. Project Emissions Accounting: In 2020, the EPA finalized a rule to clarify the accounting of emissions increases and decreases in the PSD applicability analysis. The rule allows sources to consider both increases and decreases in emissions from a proposed project when determining whether the project triggers PSD permitting requirements. 85 FR 74890

These changes and updates demonstrate the dynamic nature of the PSD permit program and the importance of staying informed about regulatory developments. Permit applicants and permitting authorities must carefully review and incorporate these changes into their PSD permitting processes to ensure compliance and avoid potential challenges or delays.

Additional Resources & Information

For more information on the PSD permit program and related topics, please consult the following official resources:

  1. EPA PSD Permit Program Website: The EPA's official website for the PSD permit program, providing an overview of the program, regulatory requirements, guidance documents, and other helpful resources. https://www.epa.gov/nsr/prevention-significant-deterioration-basic-information

  2. PSD Regulations: The full text of the federal PSD regulations, codified at 40 C.F.R. §52.21. https://www.ecfr.gov/current/title-40/chapter-I/subchapter-C/part-52/subpart-A/section-52.21

  3. PSD Guidance Documents: A collection of EPA guidance documents on various aspects of the PSD permit program, including applicability, control technology, air quality analysis, and more. https://www.epa.gov/nsr/new-source-review-policy-and-guidance-document-index

  4. Clean Air Act (CAA) Text: The full text of the Clean Air Act, which provides the statutory authority for the PSD permit program. https://www.epa.gov/clean-air-act-overview/clean-air-act-text

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A Note to Our Readers: We hope this guide is a valuable resource in helping you better understand the PSD 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.