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Air Facility Permits and Registrations

NYSDEC's Air Permitting and Registration Program

New York's air permitting program identifies and controls sources of air pollution. Air sources range in size from large industrial facilities and power plants to small commercial operations, such as dry cleaners. Most large sources require full air pollution permits, while smaller sources are covered by DEC's air source registration program.

Before 1970, few limitations were placed on the amount of pollutants that could be discharged to the air. When the first federal air quality standards were issued, New York's air was more polluted than the standards allowed in several areas. After nearly four decades of controlling pollutant emissions through air source permits, the state's air quality has improved significantly.

Today, air quality in most areas of New York meets standards that are much more rigorous than those of 1970. As new information on the health and environmental effects of air pollution has become available, new state and federal standards have been established and early limits tightened to protect health and environment. By requiring the use of effective pollution control technology and enforcing compliance with permit conditions, DEC's air permitting program has been a vital means of reducing emissions to meet ever more stringent standards.

Air Pollution Control Permits and Registrations

The air permitting program is required by the Clean Air Act and under New York State law and regulation, most notably 6 NYCRR Part 201. The program is administered by DEC's Division of Air Resources (DAR). The two most common types of permit for air contamination sources are described in 6 NYCRR Part 201: (link leaves DEC)

State facility permits are issued to facilities that are not considered to be major (as defined in the department's regulations), but that meet the criteria of Subpart 201-5. (link leaves DEC) These are generally large facilities with the following characteristics:

  • Their actual emissions exceed 50 percent of the level that would make them major, but their potential to emit as defined in 6NYCRR Part 200 does not place them in the major category
  • They require the use of permit conditions to limit emissions below thresholds that would make them subject to certain state or federal requirements
  • They have been granted variances under the department's air regulations, or
  • They are new facilities that are subject to New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) or that emit hazardous air pollutants.

Title V facility permits, the second type of permit, are issued to facilities subject to Subpart 201-6.(link leaves DEC) These include facilities that are judged to be major under the department's regulations, or that are subject to New Source Performance Standards (NSPSs), to a standard or other requirements regulating hazardous air pollutants or to federal acid rain program requirements.

Title V permits reduce violations of air pollution laws and improve enforcement of those laws by:

  • Recording in one document all of the air pollution control requirements that apply to the source. This gives members of the public, regulators, and the source a clear picture of what the facility is required to do to keep its air pollution under the legal limits.
  • Requiring the source to make regular reports on how it is tracking its emissions of pollution and the controls it is using to limit its emissions. These reports are public information, and you can get them from the permitting authority.
  • Adding monitoring, testing, or record keeping requirements, where needed to assure that the source complies with its emission limits or other pollution control requirements.
  • Requiring the source to certify each year whether or not it has met the air pollution requirements in its title V permit. These certifications are public information.
  • Making the terms of the title V permit federally enforceable. This means that EPA and the public can enforce the terms of the permit, along with the State.

Non-major facilities that meet the criteria of Subpart 201-4 (link leaves DEC) can register under the department's permitting program, rather than obtain a permit. Registrations are ministerial in nature and have no formal notice requirements.

The Air Permitting Process

To obtain a permit, a facility owner or operator must apply to the department using forms designated for this purpose. Applicants must supply information on the facility's emissions, the processes operating at the facility, the raw materials being used, the height and location of stacks or vents, the requirements that apply to the facility, and the controls being applied. DAR develops air source permits based on the information in the applications.

Permit applications are processed following a number of steps prescribed by regulation (6 NYCRR Part 621)(link leaves DEC). The permit process begins with entry of data from the permit application into a comprehensive, computerized system called the Air Facilities System (AFS). DEC technical staff review the application to determine if the operation of the source can be expected to cause any air pollution problems, and to ensure that compliance with pollution control requirements will be achieved.

Based on the information in the application, a draft permit is developed. Often, the draft permit is made available for public comment before a final permit is issued. Depending on the type of permit, draft permit review may be brief and straightforward, or may require more extensive involvement of the public, US EPA, and sometimes other states. AFS records and tracks the entire process.

Once the source is in operation, regular emissions reporting and any compliance or enforcement activity associated with the permit are also recorded in AFS. Some Air Facility System information, such as applications, draft and final permits, is available on the web. This information is commonly used by applicants, DEC air permitting staff and technical consultants, but is also available to the public.

In addition to its primary role in permit development, information generated by the permit process is used to plan for the best ways to continue New York's air quality improvement, and to determine whether facilities comply with state and federal requirements.

Forms and Other Information for Applicants

Application forms, along with associated instructions, air permitting rules, and guidance related to the permitting program are available on-line.

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