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Pacific Southwest, Region 9

Serving: Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, Pacific Islands, Tribal Nations

Air Permits

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EPA Region 9's PSD Permitting Process

There are several phases to the Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) Permitting Process. These phases include (1) pre-application, (2) application, (3) draft permit preparation, (4) public participation, and (5) final decision to issue or deny a PSD permit. These phases are described below.

1. Pre-application

During this phase, the applicant reviews air polluting activities being considered at a new or modified facility that would require a PSD permit (e.g., construction of new equipment or a new plant). EPA strongly recommends that potential applicants contact or meet with EPA to determine whether PSD applies, and to discuss what should be included in a PSD permit application. As part of the pre-application phase, an applicant may be required to conduct on-site meteorological monitoring if current meteorological data is not available.

Applicants are strongly encouraged to contact EPA to determine the amount of on-site meterological data that will be needed or to determine if there are alternatives. Because the PSD program requires applicants to perform an air quality impact analysis, EPA strongly encourages that applicants conduct preliminary dispersion modeling and that they consult with EPA to determine the need (if any) for ambient air quality monitoring (i.e., pre-construction or post-construction monitoring). An applicant may need to perform an Endangered Species Analysis (ESA). EPA encourages applicants to start consulting with the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service prior to their submission of an application to EPA. While the ESA process can take place separate from the PSD permitting process, the ESA process should be completed prior to the EPA's final decision regarding the PSD permit application. Again, the PSD applicant is strongly encouraged by EPA to request a pre-application meeting with EPA permitting staff to review its permit needs and discuss any pre-application requirements and to discuss the contents and the format of a complete PSD permit application.

2. Application

After determining its pre-application needs, the applicant submits a PSD permit application to EPA. (For detailed information on expected contents of the permit application, please contact EPA Region 9 Air Permitting Staff). Permit applications are often lengthy. They must include a description of the facility and how the facility will be constructed or modified, and operated to be protective of public health and the environment. The agency then reviews the PSD application for completeness. EPA typically determines whether the PSD application is administratively complete within 30 days after receiving the application. If the application is incomplete, EPA will request the necessary information in order to make it complete.

In addition to providing at least two copies of the PSD permit application to EPA, copies of the permit application should be sent to the appropriate Federal Land Manager (FLM), the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service (as appropriate), and to the appropriate state, local, or Tribal agencies. We strongly recommend that, along with the signed hard copy of the application, an electronic version be submitted as well.

EPA notifies the U. S. Fish & Wildlife Service that the permit development is in progress to determine if consultation will be necessary. If the project is located near any Class I areas, EPA follows a similar procedure for notifying the FLMs of the Class I areas. (Class I areas are areas of special national or regional natural, scenic, recreational, or historic value for which the PSD regulations provide special protection.)

3. Draft permit preparation

After the application is deemed complete, EPA prepares a draft permit and an Ambient Air Quality Impact Report (AAQIR). The draft permit contains conditions for controlling air pollution. The AAQIR includes an air quality impact analysis; it includes an analysis for installation of the best available control technolgy; and, it describes the derivation of the conditions in the draft permit and the reasons for them. The process of preparing the draft permit may take from six months to a year from the time the application is deemed complete.

4. Public participation

Once EPA makes a preliminary determination, EPA makes available to the public its proposed decision. If EPA proposes to issue a permit, then EPA will propose the permit and AAQIR and start public comment period. The public comment period is usually 30 days, and may be longer if EPA finds that there is significant public interest. The public is usually notified of the draft permit through a printed legal notice in the local newspaper of general circulation in the area where the source is, or will be, located. The public may also be notified of the draft permit through EPA’s website. EPA will directly notify any citizen who requests to be on the mailing list for the permit by sending the legal public notice to those interested persons.

Anyone may submit comments on the proposed permit to EPA during the public comment period and may also request a public hearing. If EPA holds a public hearing, the public hearing may be held during the public comment period.

All permit documents and comments received from the public during the public comment period become part of the administrative record for the permit. The administrative record is available to the public.

5. Permit issuance

After the public comment period has ended, EPA carefully considers all comments and prepares its response to these comments. EPA then issues a decision on the final PSD permit and its response to comments. The final PSD permit usually becomes effective 30 days after EPA issues its decision, unless a different effective date is given or the final PSD permit is appealed to the Environmental Appeals Board (EAB).

Any person who filed comments on that draft permit or participated in the public hearing may petition the EAB to review the final permit decision. The regulations governing the appeal process are at 40 CFR 124.19.

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