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Flexible Air Permits Proposed to Prevent Pollution and Paperwork


EPA is proposing changes to air quality permitting rules to encourage pollution prevention; provide increased flexibility, enable industrial facilities to make rapid changes to respond to market demands; save resources for state permitting authorities, and improve public information.

The proposed changes would affect both EPA’s operating permits and New Source Review (NSR) programs. Under the proposed changes to the operating permits program, a facility with a flexible permit would explain its operational plans and possible changes to those plans for the duration of the permit term – typically 5 years. The state, local or tribal air quality permitting authority would include permit conditions to ensure protection of public health and the environment for all of those operating conditions. These flexible permits do not provide approval for operational changes not within the scope of conditions considered at the time of the permit application, and facilities would still be required to meet their requirements under the Clean Air Act.

The proposed revisions to the NSR program would govern when advance approvals of certain changes would be appropriate.

EPA and states have been testing many of the flexible permitting approaches for more than a decade. Based on the agency’s evaluation of pilot projects, EPA expects that these proposed changes will promote significant environmental and economic benefits, while reducing administrative workload for both permitting authorities and facilities.

EPA will accept comment on this proposed rule for 60 days after it is published in the Federal Register.


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