Air Quality Permitting in North Carolina
The most recent change to the 1970 Clean Air Act was the 1990 Clean
Air Act Amendments. These amendments created a comprehensive Title V
operating permit program for the major sources of air pollutants,
created an acid rain program to control sulfur dioxide and nitrogen
oxides emissions from power plants, and identified 189 new hazardous
air pollutants for future standards development.
Generally, all facilities in North Carolina that generate air
pollution are required to have an air quality permit unless
specifically exempted by the regulations. In North Carolina, air
pollution control requirements and air quality permit requirements for
stationary (paint spray booths, metal degreasers, boilers, etc.) and
mobile sources (cars, trucks, aircraft) are codified in Title 15A,
Subchapters 2D, 2H, and 2Q of the North Carolina Administrative Code.
This also includes the Title V operating permit rule in 2Q.0500. The
North Carolina Division of Air Quality (DAQ) issues one type of permit
that addresses both the construction and operation requirements
(2Q.0300). [To download specific regulations, visit the Division of Air
Quality.] However, there are three different categories of
permitted facilities based upon emission thresholds.
1. Title V: A facility has the potential to emit 100
tons or more per year of a common regulated pollutant, 10 tons or more
per year of any hazardous air pollutant, or 25 tons or more per year
of combined hazardous air pollutants.
2. Synthetic Minor: A facility takes action to ensure
emissions remain below Title V thresholds. The facilitys permit
obligates it to maintain these lower levels of emissions.
3. Small: A facility has no potential for exceeding Title V
Common Questions About Permitting
- 1. Who needs an air permit?
- Any source, operation, or process that has a potential emission,
before control, of more than five tons of any air pollutant (namely,
total suspended particulate, PM-10, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides,
carbon monoxide, volatile organic compounds, and lead) will require
a permit to construct and operate, provided the source in question
is not specifically excluded from the permit requirements, as
specified in 2Q.0102.
If a facility is a major source under the Title V operating permit
program, then it must apply for a Title V operating permit. Upon
issuance, the existing construction and operation permit becomes
void (i.e. the Title V permit supercedes the construction and
operation permit for major sources).
- 2. Are there any exemptions to the permit requirement?
- Yes. Some exemptions are for specific activities a storage
tank used solely to store fuel oils, kerosene, crude oil, used motor
oil, lubricants, cooling oils, natural gas, or liquefied petroleum
gas. Some activities are exempt because of size or production rate
above-ground storage tanks with a storage capacity maximum of 1,100
gallons, organic liquids stored with a true vapor pressure maximum
of 10.8 pounds per square inch absolute at 70o F. Refer
For a Title V facility, exemptions given in 2Q.0102, due to size or
production rate, shall be included in the Title V permit
application. However, exemptions given for specific activities should
not be included.
- 3. What does a construction and operation permit application
- completed applicable forms
- appropriate fees
- zoning consistency determination
- process flow diagram
- detailed calculations
- supporting documentation showing the use of emission factors
- material balances
- control efficiencies
- professional engineering seal, if required
For Title V permit application content, please call Laura Butler,
DAQ, (919) 715-6236.
- 4. What is the application fee?
- Fees range from $50 (small facility) to $23,026 (Title V
facility). Facilities also must pay annual fees.
- 5. How can a zoning consistency determination be obtained?
- Contact the clerk of the local government where the equipment is
proposed to be constructed.
- 6. Where can emission factors be obtained?
- U.S. EPA publication AP-42, Air Pollutant Emission Factors.
- 7. Does the application need to be signed and sealed by a
North Carolina registered professional engineer (PE)?
- Yes. A PE signature is needed if the new sources and
modifications of existing sources involve design, determination of
applicability and appropriateness, or determination and
interpretation of performance of the air pollution control device. A
permit renewal without any modification to the control equipment
does not trigger the PE requirement. Refer to 2Q.0112 for further
details and additional exemptions.
- 8. Where can application forms be obtained?
- Contact the applicable Air Quality Regional Office (See
DENR Regional Office Map).
- 9. How many copies of the application are required?
- Three copies each:
- Construction and operation permit
- Transportation facility permit
- Six copies each:
- Prevention of significant deterioration (PSD)
- National Emissions Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutant
- Air toxic permits
- Two copies:
- Name change and renewals
- Six copies plus one each for affected states:
- Title V permit involving PSD, NESHAPs, and air
- Four copies plus one each for affected states:
- Title V permit not involving PSD, NESHAPs, and air
- 10. Can operations continue while the permit is pending?
- Equipment can be purchased, but cannot be constructed or operated
until the permit is issued.
- 11. When will the permit be issued?
- The construction and operation permit generally is issued within
90 days from the receipt of the complete application.
- 12. What is the duration of the permit?
- Five years.
- 13. Can equipment operation continue after the permit has
- Yes, if the permit renewal was filed at least 90 days prior to
the expiration date.
- 14. If a piece of new equipment is purchased, do I need to
modify the current permit issued for the other existing sources?
- If the equipment is not specifically exempted from the permit
requirement, as per the 2Q.0102 requirements, then the current
permit may need to be revised to include the new piece of equipment.
See question 1.
See DENR regional offices map and the next
story, Common Violations Found During an Air Inspection.
Common Violations Found During an Air
Two of the most common violations found during an air inspection
- Inadequate reporting and record-keeping for example,
failure to record daily operational hours of boiler, failure to
perform daily calculations of photochemically reactive volatile
organic compound (VOC) emissions. The permit specifies the types and
frequency of data collection, emission calculations, monitoring of
operational parameters for sources and control devices, and
- Maintenance violations for example, holes in duct work of
control devices, missing bags on bag filters. The permit specifies
the type and frequency of inspection and maintenance requirements
for control devices.
It is important that records are carefully kept to document
emissions. This not only satisfies the permit requirement, but it also
may be helpful to qualify for exemptions and to certify compliance.
Proper equipment maintenance and operation can improve operational
efficiency, prolong equipment life, and improve the cost-effectiveness
of the process.
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