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The Region 8 Office advises and assists states, local governments, and tribes on matters relating to the development and implementation of the New Source Review (NSR) program and the Operating Permits program, and it takes rulemaking action to approve, disapprove or delegate state, local and tribal programs. The Region 8 Office also directly administers the Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) program under the NSR program and the Operating Permits program where state or tribal programs have not been approved or delegated.
Under these programs, certain new stationary sources of air pollution or modifications to existing stationary sources are required to obtain an air pollution control permit before beginning construction. The permit specifies what air pollution control devices must be used, what emission limits must be met, and how the facility must be operated. The NSR program provides for public participation in the permitting process. The public generally has at least 30 days to comment on all draft NSR permits.
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There are three types of NSR permitting programs. A source may have to meet the permitting requirements under one or more of the following:
New or modified major stationary sources in attainment areas, or areas that meet the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS), are required by the CAA to obtain PSD permit before constructing. "Unclassifiable Areas," or areas where the air quality data are insufficient to designate attainment or non-attainment, are also included in the PSD Permitting Program. The purpose of this program is to ensure that air quality is not significantly degraded from the addition of new or modified major sources of air pollution in these areas. Facilities must use best available control technology (BACT) to minimize their emissions.
The PSD program can be found in Title I, part C of the Clean Air Act (CAA). The federal requirements for state PSD implementation plans are found in 40 C.F.R. part 51, subpart I. The federal requirements for EPA to implement the program are in 40 C.F.R. part 52, subpart A, and 40 C.F.R. part 124.
The NA NSR program applies to major sources in non-attainment areas, where air quality violates the NAAQS. The purpose of this program is to bring air quality in these areas into compliance with national standards, without blocking economic development. To do this, the NA NSR program has lower thresholds triggering NSR permitting requirements and requires companies to use the lowest achievable emission rates (LAER), EPA’s strictest pollution control requirement. It also requires companies to offset their emissions by arranging for a nearby source to reduce its existing emissions (known as "emissions trading" or "emissions offsets").
The NA NSR program can be found in Title 1, part D of the CAA, and the federal requirements for state NA NSR implementation plans are in 40 C.F.R. part 51, subpart I. The federal requirements for EPA to implement the NA NSR program are in 40 C.F.R. part 49.
Note that a facility may be required to obtain both types of major NSR permits if it is located in an area that is in attainment for some of the pollutants it will emit but not for others.
For new facilities or modifications to existing facilities where emissions increases are not large enough to meet the emission thresholds for the major NSR permitting requirements described above, the Region 8 states have EPA-approved minor NSR programs and those programs vary considerably from state to state. Region 8 operates a minor NSR program for sources proposing to operate in Indian country. Presently there are no minor NSR programs approved or delegated to any tribe in Region 8.
The Operating Permits Program can be found in Title V of the CAA. Title V operating permits are legally enforceable documents issued to stationary sources after the source has begun to operate. Sources whose emissions are greater than the established Title V permitting thresholds or who meet other applicable criteria are required to obtain an operating permit. The permits contain all the air pollution control requirements that apply to the source, including requirements from NSR permits, or other applicable requirements, such as New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) or National Emissions Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP). State, tribal or local-issued Title V operating permits are often called "Part 70" permits because the regulations that establish the standards for them are found in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) at 40 C.F.R. part 70. EPA-issued title V permits are often called "Part 71" permits because the regulations that establish the standards for them and EPA's authority are found in the Code of Federal Regulations at 40 C.F.R. part 71.
The Title V Operating Permits Program provides for public participation in the permitting process. The public generally has at least 30 days to comment on all draft Title V operating permits. For all permits issued by a state, tribal or local permitting authority, EPA also has a 45-day review period, which may or may not run concurrently with the public comment period.