The Air Quality Division issues permits to help maintain the ambient air quality and are the primary tools used to implement the air quality regulations. Facilities with potential air emissions above specified levels must obtain construction permits and/or operating permits.
Before businesses construct or modify equipment that emits regulated pollutants, they have to determine if the change in emissions from the project will exceed the thresholds in the Nebraska air quality regulations. If they do, then they’ll need a construction permit.
We also issue operating permits based on a source’s level of emissions. An operating permit will incorporate all of a source’s requirements into one permit, including all construction permit limitations and federal regulations. Operating permits usually require additional monitoring, stack testing, reporting, and recordkeeping.
The process to obtain an air permit is virtually the same for construction and operating permits. It typically takes from four to six months to obtain an air permit. There are many factors that affect the time it takes to complete the process. The primary factors are the quality of the application and the type and complexity of the project.
To facilitate the submittal of a quality construction permit application and minimize the time it takes for NDEQ to prepare the permit, the Air Quality Division strongly recommends a project planning meeting and a pre-application meeting. Early communication will help streamline the process and reduce the time required to review the application and issue a permit. During these meetings, the source can explain the project and its complexity. In addition, they can bring up any innovative technologies and/or approaches that are anticipated. Based on the sources input, the Division can provide the source with our informational needs to help assure that a quality application is provided. In addition, it gives the Division time to research the proposal prior to the receipt of the application.
Once the permit application and fee, if applicable, is received by NDEQ, it is reviewed for administrative completeness. The reviewer will determine if the application has the appropriate signature(s), if the application contains all the required forms, and if the applicant has requested confidentiality.
Once the application has been deemed administratively complete, it is assigned to a permit writer for a technical completeness evaluation. The permit writer will determine if the application provides enough detailed information to draft a permit that accurately reflects the facility while assuring that all of the regulatory requirements have been addressed. This step is the most complex in the permitting process and will take at least 60-90 days to complete for construction permits.
After the operating or construction permit is drafted, the permit will undergo a series of reviews to determine if the emissions were properly evaluated, permit limits are appropriate, and the permit is clear, concise, and consistent. After these reviews, the permit will be sent to the source for their review. This is done to assure that the permit meets the source’s needs while meeting our requirement to protect the air quality of the state. Once the draft permit is reviewed and approved, it is prepared for public notice.
The public notice is published in a local newspaper and posted on the NDEQ website. The public notice, along with a copy of the draft permit and fact sheet, is sent to the local library to facilitate public viewing. The public comment period lasts 30 days. The public may also request a hearing during the public notice period. If a hearing is requested and granted by the NDEQ director, a hearing notice will be published in local newspapers 30 days prior the scheduled hearing.
Once the public comment period has ended, a response document is drafted to address all of the comments received. After public comments are addressed, the permit will be prepared for signature. Once the permit is signed copies are distributed to the appropriate parties.