Focus On Air Division
Air Construction Permit Program

Who to Contact:
Air Quality Permit Hotline (877) 834-0474
Air Quality Division (402) 471-2189

Before a new facility is built or before an existing facility is expanded or modified, an air quality construction permit may be required. There are two types of construction permits: state construction permits and federal construction permits, known as New Source Review (NSR) or Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) permits. The type of construction permit that is needed will depend on the quantity of air pollutants that potentially could be released from the new plant or expansion project. The Construction Permit Fact Sheet will provide more information about the program.
Who needs to apply?
State Construction Permits
Sources need to obtain a construction permit before they construct, reconstruct or modify any air contaminant source or emission unit where there is a net increase in the potential emissions above the following thresholds:
15 tons per year (tpy) of particulate matter 10 microns in diameter or smaller;
40 tpy of sulfur dioxide, sulfur trioxide, or any combination thereof;
40 tpy of nitrogen oxides;
40 tpy volatile organic compounds;
50 tpy carbon monoxide;
0.6 tpy lead; or
2.5 tpy of any single hazardous air pollutant (HAP) or 10 tpy of all HAPs combined.
All incinerators, regardless of emissions, must have a construction permit.

Examples of air contaminant sources and emission units include, but are not limited to: fuel combustion equipment (excluding on-road mobile sources); grain handling equipment; paints and coatings; solvent cleaners; volatile liquid storage; storage piles; asphalt and concrete production plants; chemical manufacturing; cooling towers; haul roads; and incineration units.

Potential emissions are based on operating the unit/source 24 hours per day at maximum capacity for twelve months or 8,760 hours. The Potential Emission Calculation Spreadsheets illustrate some of the typical potential emission calculations for common emission units.

Sources needing a construction permit may qualify for coverage under the Permit-by-Rule program.

Federal Construction Permits
Under the federal construction permit program there are two types of construction permits. In areas that have pollution levels below the NAAQS, referred to as attainment areas, sources that meet the appropriate criteria will obtain a Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) permit. In areas that have pollution levels above the NAAQS, referred to as nonattainment areas, sources meeting the appropriate criteria will obtain a nonattainment New Source Review permit. Currently, Nebraska is in attainment of all ambient air quality standards. In order for a facility to trigger the requirement to obtain a PSD or NSR construction permit, they must meet both of the following criteria:
  1. The facility must have potential emissions of:
    • 100 tons per year (tpy) of any regulated PSD pollutant* if the source is one of 26 specific source categories listed in the PSD rules (40 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) §52.21(b))* OR
    • 250 tpy of any regulated PSD pollutant* for sources not specifically listed in the PSD rules, and
  2. Have net emissions increases of:
    • 25 tons per year of Particulate Matter (PM) or total suspended particulate (TSP)
    • 15 tons per year (tpy) of PM10
    • 40 tpy of SO2 or SO3 or any combination thereof,
    • 40 tpy of NOx (calculated as NO2),
    • 40 tpy VOC,
    • 100 tpy CO, or
    • 0.6 tpy Pb (lead)
    • Other pollutants with significance thresholds include fluorides, sulfuric acid mist, hydrogen sulfide (H2S), total reduced sulfur (TRS), and reduced sulfur compounds.
*PSD pollutants include PM, PM10, NOx, SOx CO, VOC, Pb, fluorides, sulfuric acid mist, H2S, TRS, reduced sulfur compounds, municipal waste combustor organics, metals and acid gases, and municipal waste landfill emissions.

Requirements & Timing:
If you need an air quality construction permit, you need to submit the appropriate Construction Permit Application forms found on our web page prior to physical, on-site construction. The Construction Permit Application Tips and Other Tidbits factsheet offers tips for submitting a complete construction permit. An application fee must accompany the permit application. Application fees are based upon the facility’s potential emissions. The Construction Permit Application Fees Factsheet provides more information about the fee schedule.

The construction permit application needs to be submitted to NDEQ as soon as possible once the design of the plant is known. It typically takes from four to six months to complete our review and draft the construction permit documents, followed by a 30-day public comment period. For more information about the Air Quality Construction Permit’s Fast Track Permitting view the brochure. The Air Quality Permit Process Guidance Document provides information about the permitting process.

To facilitate the submittal of a complete and accurate 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.

The project-planning meeting should be arranged with the NDEQ Environmental Assistance Division as the planning process begins. The project-planning meeting will involve staff from the Air Quality Division and the Water Quality Division. To schedule a project-planning meeting with NDEQ call (402) 471-6974.

The pre-application meeting should occur one to three months prior to submitting the application and the application should be near completion at the time of the meeting. For more information related to the expectations of the pre-application meeting, contact the Air Quality Construction Permit Hotline at (877) 834-0474 or view the fact sheet titled "Pre-Application Meetings for Air Quality Construction Permits" on the NDEQ website.

Supporting Regulations:
Construction permits are required by the Nebraska Air Quality Regulations - Title 129. Chapter 17 provides the state construction permit requirements. Chapter 19 lists the requirements to obtain a federal construction permit. The federal regulations are on EPA’s website at http://www.epa.gov/nsr/*.

Permit-by-Rule Program
Many sources need both a state 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:
Source requesting to be covered under the permit-by-rule, must submit the completed the Permit-By-Rule Application forms to the NDEQ Air Quality Division at least 45 days prior to the actual date of construction, reconstruction, or modification of the source along with a $250 permit application fee.

Supporting Regulations:
Chapter 42 provides the regulations for the Permit-by-Rule program.