Air quality operating permits contain all applicable requirements for all emission points at a facility. There are two types of operating permits: major source (federal program) and minor source (state program). The potential emissions from the plant will determine whether a facility will obtain a major or minor operating permit. More information about the air quality operating permit program can be found in the Operating Permits Fact Sheet.
Who to Contact:
Air Quality Division (402) 471-2189
Air Quality Permit Hotline (877) 834-0474
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Who needs to apply?
A facility may need an operating permit if their emissions exceed the thresholds listed below. All incinerators need to obtain an operating permit regardless of the quantity of their emissions.
Major Source Operating Permits
The federal major source program (AKA Class I or Title V) regulates larger sources of air pollution. A Class I source or major source has the potential-to-emit (PTE) quantities greater than:
*Criteria pollutants are particulate matter less than 10 microns, nitrogen oxides, sulfur oxides, carbon monoxides, volatile organic compounds, and lead.
- 100 tons per year (tpy) of any criteria air pollutant* excluding lead;
- 10 tpy of any single hazardous air pollutant (HAP) or 25 tpy of a combination of HAPs; or
- 5 tpy of lead.
Minor Source Operating Permits
The state minor source program (AKA Class II) regulates smaller sources of air pollution. There are two classifications for minor sources: synthetic minor and natural minor.
Potential emissions are based on operating the unit/source 24 hours per day at maximum capacity for twelve months or 8,760 hours.
- Synthetic Minor
- Potential emissions above Class I emission levels (see previous section)
- Federally enforceable limits are taken to keep emissions below Class I emission levels
- Natural Minor
- Potential emissions below the Class I emission levels
- Actual emissions above 50% of Class I emission levels
- 50 tpy of criteria pollutant except lead;
- 5 tpy of any single hazardous air pollutant (HAP) or 12.5 tons per year of a combination of HAPs; or
- 2.5 tpy of lead.
Timing & Requirements: If you need an air quality operating permit, you need to submit the appropriate Operating Permit Application forms within 12 months after the emissions unit(s) begin operation or 12 months of becoming subject to the operating permit requirements, whichever is earlier.
The operating permit requirements can be found in Title 129 – Nebraska Air Quality Regulations Chapter 5, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, and 12.
Low Emitter Program
A source may not need to obtain an operating permit if they can demonstrate that they are a “Low Emitter.” A “low emitter” is a source with potential emissions above the Class I levels, but their actual emissions are below the Class II levels. More information about the Low Emitter Program is located in the Nebraska’s Low Emitter Rule Fact Sheet.
Timing & Requirements:
If you qualify for the low emitter program, complete the appropriate Low Emitter Worksheet form and submit it to NDEQ for review and approval. A source must have at least one full year of operating data in order to be considered for low emitter status. Sources covered under this program must maintain records with calculations demonstrating that their actual emissions remain below the Class II threshold.
The Low Emitter provisions are located in Chapter 5 of Title 129.
Many sources need both a construction permit and an operating permit. In order to issue permits to these sources more quickly and more efficiently, with standardized conditions among sources, the Department has established a permit-by-rule program. Permit-by-rule satisfies both the construction permit and operating permit requirements for the source. NDEQ currently has permit-by-rules for asphalt plants and small animal incinerators.
Timing & Requirements:
Sources covered by Permit-by-Rules must submit the appropriate Permit-by-Rule forms to NDEQ along with a $250 permit application fee (if the source is applying for the permit-by-rule to comply with the construction permit requirements).
If the source will be covered under the permit-by-rule, the Notice of Intent (NOI) form should be submitted according to the following:
- Sources constructing a new facility must submit the completed NOI form to the NDEQ Air Quality Division at least 45 days prior to the actual date of construction, reconstruction, or modification of the source;
- Sources without a current operating permit must submit the NOI form within 12 months of the source becoming operational or subject to the requirement to obtain a permit; and
- Sources with a current operating permit that would like to be covered by the permit-by-rule must submit the NOI form between six and 18 months of permit expiration.
Chapter 42 provides the regulations for the Permit-by-Rule program.