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Draft EPA National Program Managers Guidance Suggests Focus on Monitoring and Timely Permit Issuance


On June 28, 2017, EPA released its “Draft FY 2018-2019 Office of Air and Radiation (OAR) National Program Manager Guidance”. The National Program Manager Guidance “describes the key activities expected to be undertaken by the EPA, states, territories, and tribal governments as they work together to protect and improve the quality of the Nation’s air.” The guidance is also used as a basis for negotiation with states and tribes for EPA financial support.

ANALYSIS

In its overall policy direction, EPA states that “EPA will continue to address compliance monitoring issues when reviewing Title V and New Source Review (NSR) and Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) permits issued by state, local, and tribal permitting authorities, and will continue to include monitoring as an element in program reviews where appropriate.” The expected state and local agency 2018-2019 actions are listed as follows:

  1. Provide data in a timely manner on Title V permits to EPA for entry into TOPS.

  2. Issue initial permits, significant permit modifications, and renewal Title V permits and reduce backlog of renewal permits.

  3. Participate with EPA in Title V permit program evaluations, set targets to respond to EPA’s evaluation report, and implement recommendations.

  4. Issue major NSR PSD permits within one year of making the determination of completeness.

  5. Issue NSR permits consistent with CAA requirements and enter BACT/LAER determinations in the RACT/BACT/LAER Clearinghouse (RBLC).

  6. Provide data in a timely manner on PSD permits issued for new major sources and major modifications by entering data including “the application accepted date” and “the permit issuance date” into the RBLC national database.

In its performance measures, EPA states in the OAR Guidance that it intends:

  1. To review 50% of state-issued major NSR/PSD permits to ensure consistent implementation of the NSR program (Measure OAQPS P09);

  2. To issue 80% of EPA PSD permits within the statutory 1-year deadline (Measure OAQPS P19);

  3. Review 2% of all Part 70 permit applications, including merged (e.g., joint Title V/NSR permits) during the year (Measure OAQPS P20).

COMMENTARY

Overall, the draft OAR guidance suggests continuation of past OAR activities, with an increase in federal efforts at more collaborative engagement with states and tribes and, consistent with the Administration’s focus on more timely infrastructure approval, more emphasis on timely permit issuance. The focus on increased monitoring is interesting, particularly given the limited regulatory provisions for monitoring in the PSD and NNSR programs compared to the Title V program.

 

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