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Changes Proposed to Improve Efficacy of Air Permitting Program

State environmental officials are proposing changes to the air quality permitting process that will improve environmental protection and reduce regulatory burdens and costs for small emitters of air pollution.

The Division of Air Quality will present its proposed changes to the state Environmental Management Commission, or EMC, at the its Sept. 10 meeting. During the meeting, the EMC will decide whether to take the proposal to public hearing. The EMC meeting is scheduled to start at 9 a.m. in the Ground Floor Hearing Room of the Archdale Building in Raleigh.

DAQ’s research has shownthat the changes, if approved by the EMC, would provide regulatory relief to more than 1,400 small facilities with relatively low air pollution emissions without harming air quality. Moreover, state officials determined that these changes would save businesses an estimated $768,225 per year in permit fees and associated costs.

Key elements of the proposal would exempt about 1,200 small sources of air emissions from permitting requirements, establish a less burdensome registration process for another 240 small sources, and streamline the process for approving minor changes to pollution control equipment at all permitted sources.

These changes will allow the agency to focus its efforts on sources with the highest potential for having environmental impacts.

State and federal air quality rules would still apply to facilities that become exempt from permitting, and the DAQ would develop a plan to ensure that these small emitters continue to comply with rules. Also, the DAQ could require any exempt facility to have a permit if it determines that one is needed to ensure compliance with air quality rules.

Although small sources account for nearly 63 percent of permitted facilities, they contribute only 3.4 percent of the total emissions of major or criteria air pollutants from point sources. Small sources that would qualify for permit exemptions contribute about 0.6 percent of criteria pollutant emissions.

DAQ would lose about $280,425 per year in revenue from permit fees currently paid by exempted and registered facilities, but would no longer have the administrative costs associated with writing and renewing permits for most small sources.

More information about the proposed air permitting changes can be found in the draft rules section of the DAQ’s website.

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