Permit Application and Application Review

Why does SWCAA regulate air contaminant emissions?

SWCAA regulates air contaminant emissions in order to keep our air clean and healthy. Prolonged exposure to certain air contaminants has been shown to adversely impact human health. In addition, high levels of air contaminants can cause crop damage and deterioration of natural resources. SWCAA's regulations, policies, and programs are designed to maintain air quality standards, protect human health, prevent injury to plant and animal life, and protect the area's scenic views for current and future generations.

What authority does SWCAA have to regulate air contaminant emissions?

SWCAA's legal authority can be found in the Washington Clean Air Act (RCW 70.94). SWCAA's regulatory authority has been directly delegated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency [U.S. Clean Air Act (42 USC 7401 et seq.)] and the Washington State Department of Ecology. SWCAA has adopted regulations for the control of air contaminant emissions, including toxic air contaminants, substances for which primary and secondary National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) have been established, and volatile organic compounds.

What is a Permit Application?

A Permit Application is the document or form used by SWCAA to record and track requests from individual sources, registered and non-registered, for the purpose of obtaining information regarding proposed changes (equipment or processes) at an air contaminant source. Information which the source wants to be handled as confidential must be identified and handled in accordance with provisions of SWCAA 400-270 "Confidentiality of Records and Information." A fee consistent with the fee schedule provided in SWCAA 400-1 10 must be submitted with the Permit Application prior to review by SWCAA.

When is a Permit Application required?

A Permit Application must be submitted for all new installations and for modifications of existing process and emission control equipment. Examples of situations which require submission of a Permit Application are described in SWCAA 400-109(3) "Types of Applications." SWCAA evaluates each application as it is received, and must make a completeness determination in writing within 30 calendars of receipt. Incomplete applications require the submission of additional information prior to further review.

What is considered a "new source" of air contaminant emissions?

A "new source" of air contaminant emissions is defined as one of the following:

  • The construction or modification of a stationary source that increases the amount of any air contaminant emitted by such source or that results in the emissions o any air contaminant not previously emitted;
  • Any other project that constitutes a new source under the Federal Clean Air Act;
  • Restart of a stationary source after a lapse of one year or more in payment of registration fees or operating permit fees; or
  • Restart of a stationary source after a period of five years of non-operation where registration or operating permit fees have been paid.

Construction or modification of a source that does not increase the amount of any air contaminant emitted by the source and does not result in emission of any air contaminant not previously emitted is not considered a "new source." However, modification or alteration of existing sources which does not constitute a new source (i.e., there is a net decrease in emissions) may still be subject to review and approval by SWCAA if the project involves modification of emitting equipment or emission control technology.

How are Permit Applications reviewed and approved?

SWCAA's Permit Application review program requires proposed new sources and modifications of existing sources to demonstrate that all applicable emission standards have been met prior to approval. Examples of applicable emissions standards include, but are not limited to: Reasonably Available Control Technology (RACT), Best Available Control Technology (BACT), Lowest Achievable Emission Rate (LAER), Maximum Available Control Technology (MACT), New Source Performance Standards (NSPS), National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP), and ambient air quality standards. The review program uses information submitted in a Permit Application as the basis for determining whether applicable emission standards have been met. The Washington Clean Air Act requires all new sources and modifications which increase emissions to employ BACT. Where there is no increase in emissions, existing sources must employ RACT. SWCAA is required to issue a final decision on an application within sixty calendar days of receipt of a completed Permit Application. For those projects subject to public notice, SWCAA issues a preliminary determination and initiates notice and public comment procedures pursuant with SWCAA 400-171, followed as promptly as possible by a final decision. Final decisions are issued in the form of a regulatory order as described in SWCAA 400-230.

Can final determinations made by SWCAA be appealed?

Any decision or regulatory order issued by SWCAA may be appealed to the Board of Directors as provided in SWCAA 400-250 "Appeals" or appealed directly to the Pollution Control Hearings Board as provided in RCW 43.21B and WAC 371-08.

Are there other permits I might need for my facility?

While SWCAA permits only those facilities that emit or has the potential to emit pollutants to the atmosphere, you might need other environmental permits for your facility.