The purpose of the Southwest Clean Air Agency (SWCAA) is to preserve, enhance, and protect the quality of our region's air resource, for the benefit of current and future generations. SWCAA carries out this purpose through the administration of regulations designed to control air pollution. The legal basis for these regulations can be found in the Washington Clean Air Act, the Federal Clean Air Act, and the Washington Environmental Policy Act. SWCAA may implement its own local regulations which are more stringent than the state or federal regulations if circumstances necessitate such action. There are also agreements with other governmental agencies, such as the Department of Ecology and the Department of Natural Resources regarding funding, program commitments, and outdoor burning control.
The term "air contaminant" refers to dust, fumes, mist, smoke, other particulate matter, vapor, gas, odorous substance, or any combination thereof as defined in SWCAA 400-030(3). The term includes any substance regulated as an air pollutant under WAC 173-460, National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants, Section 112 of the Federal Clean Air Act Amendments, a substance for which a primary or secondary National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) has been established, and volatile organic compounds. The term "air pollutant" is used interchangeably with the term "air contaminant".
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 panoramic views for future generations.
SWCAA's legal authority can be found in the Washington Clean Air Act (RCW 70.94). For certain Federal programs 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. Under its own statutory authority 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.
Air contaminant sources are regulated through a system of registration with SWCAA. All sources of air contaminants are required to register with SWCAA in accordance with the provisions of the Washington Clean Air Act (RCW 70.94.151) and SWCAA 400-100 "Registration Requirements and Operating Permit Fees". Registration of air contaminant sources makes it possible to maintain an accurate record of air contaminant emissions, and judge the effectiveness of air pollution control strategies. New source review of air contaminant sources, and modifications, also allows SWCAA to verify that air contaminant sources are in compliance with applicable air pollution control regulations.
There is an annual fee charged for maintaining the registration of an contaminant source. In order to offset the cost of inspections of the source and administration, SWCAA charges an annual fee of per emission unit plus per ton of criteria pollutant emissions and per ton of toxic pollutant emissions. An emission unit is defined as any part of a stationary source which emits or has the potential to emit any pollutant subject to regulation under the Federal Clean Air Act or the Washington Clean Air Act. A single source may have one emission unit, or many, depending on the type of operation. Sources participating in the Title V program have a separate fee which applies to them, and are not assessed a registration fee.
Pursuant to the Washington Clean Air Act (RCW 70.94.151), registered sources are required to provide to SWCAA the location, size and height of contaminant emission points, processes employed, the nature of contaminant emissions, and other information which is relevant to air pollution emitted by the source. Through the process of new source review, registered sources are also required to submit process information and annual levels of emissions generally by March 15th of each year.