Air permit regulatory compliance
Air permit compliance is crucial for industries and businesses that emit pollutants into the atmosphere. Regulatory agencies issue air permits for to:
- Ensure that the emissions from these entities meet air quality standards
- Reduce exposure risks for public health and the environment.
Failure to comply with air permit regulations can result in hefty fines and legal action, as well as damage to the reputation of the facility.
This article will outline key activities necessary to achieve air permit compliance, discuss the role of regulatory agencies and enforcement, and provide guidance on how to disclose data about emissions.
Core activities for air permit compliance
Below are the top five things you need to do in order to ensure compliance with air quality regulations.
Get a permit
You must obtain an air permit from the relevant regulatory agency before participating in activities that release pollutants to the atmosphere. Air permits specify conditions the facility must meet when operating to ensure that emissions don’t exceed certain levels.
The permit is typically site-specific and outlines the types of emissions sources allowed, the types of pollutants that can be emitted, and the limits for each.
Develop a compliance plan
Once you get a permit, you must develop a robust compliance plan that outlines the measures that you’ll take to meet the permit requirements.
This plan may include preventative and corrective actions to mitigate emissions and maintain air quality standards. It should also include monitoring and recordkeeping procedures to track emissions and maintain documentation for audits.
Implement best practices
Another requirement is to implement the best available control technology (BACT) to reduce pollutants’ emissions. This technology can include hardware, software, or operational controls.
It must also be designed to minimize emissions while still meeting the facility’s operational needs. Your maintenance and inspection program should be set up to ensure that systems operate optimally and prevent potential problems.
Monitoring is a crucial aspect of air permit compliance. You need to install monitoring equipment to regularly measure emissions from different sources.
The data you collect will help determine whether the facility meets it’s permit requirements. Store your emissions data in a secure database to ensure data integrity and accuracy.
If you’re worried about having sensitive information in a digital format, check out our post answering the question: “Is my EHS data safe in the cloud?”
Keep detailed records
Lastly, you must maintain accurate records of all activities related to air permit compliance, including:
- Monitoring results
- Maintenance activities
- Corrective actions taken
These records should be kept for at least five years and should be easily accessible for audits from regulatory agencies.
Enforcement of air permit compliance
Various regulatory agencies enforce air permit compliance, depending on the type of facility or industry.
In the United States, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) established the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) to ensure that air quality standards are consistent and enforced around the country. The EPA oversees the implementation of the Clean Air Act, which sets guidelines for the reduction of emissions from various sources, including industries, transportation, and electricity generating units.
States may have their own air quality programs to enforce federal rules, usually through a state Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) or equivalent agency. Additionally, local governments may all have their own air quality regulations, which they enforce through a similar agency. In some cases, a federal agency may also be involved in the enforcement of state air quality regulations.
Regulatory agencies are responsible for conducting periodic reviews of air permits to ensure that facilities adhere to the established permit requirements. They have the authority to inspect facilities, review records, and enforce regulations through penalties, fines, or legal action.
How to disclose emissions data
Air quality data transparency has become increasingly important over the years, as people demand more information about the pollutants being released into the air they breathe.
Sharing emissions data can help communities understand the impact of a facility’s activities on the environment and public health. Below are some necessary actions that you can take to disclose data about your site’s emissions.
You can voluntarily report your emissions data and air permit compliance to regulatory agencies, third-party organizations, or the public. Some third-party organizations, such as the Carbon Disclosure Project, collect this data and make it available to investors, analysts, and other stakeholders. This information can promote transparency and demonstrate a your company’s commitment to social and environmental responsibility.
Another thing you can do is to use air quality monitoring technology to track and report emissions data in real-time.
These systems can make data readily available to both facility managers and regulatory agencies, which they can then use to ensure adherence to permit requirements and identify opportunities for improvement.
Lastly, it’s always a good idea to engage with local communities to share information about your operations and emissions data. This is especially true if there’s already an existing discourse surrounding your environmental impact.
Dialogues with the public can help promote transparency, address concerns, and identify areas where your facility can improve.
Achieving air permit compliance requires a comprehensive approach. It involves obtaining permits, developing compliance plans, implementing best practices, monitoring emissions, and keeping records.
If you take a proactive approach to your site’s compliance, you’ll find that you can improve your business at all angles. From worker safety to your relationship with the surrounding community, total compliance is the long-term play that every business should work towards.