Environmental professionals are well aware that an air pollution permit must be acquired before beginning to install, construct, reconstruct, relocate, or modify any process or process equipment that may emit an air contaminant unless a permit-to-install is issued by the MDEQ.
Often, operations managers want to install equipment right away, but it is necessary to obtain a permit to install before installation. While the permit is supposed to be issued within 90 days of application, waiting 90 days for the permit can be a deal breaker for some companies based on customer scheduling requirements (It is interesting to note that today’s 90-day period is much better than back in the 1990s, when permit applications would take up to two years to process).
When a client needs to move faster than 90 days, the environmental professional often consult the rulebook to find an exemption that will allow a company to avoid wading through the permit process altogether. There are many reasons to avoid the permitting process, also known as New Source Review (NSR), including a permitting process where identical equipment may end up with very different permit conditions based on the permit engineer assigned or input from the district and a field inspector. The process may be lengthy depending on these factors and the certainty as to when a permit will be issued will be anyone’s guess.
If an appropriate exemption cannot be found, another option is to apply to the MDEQ district for a “waiver of approval” to begin installation immediately, well before the actual permit is issued. Rule 202 covers these situations (very common):
If the requirement for approval of a permit-to-install before construction will create an undue hardship to the applicant, the applicant may request a waiver to proceed with construction from the department. The application for a waiver shall be in writing, shall explain the circumstances that will cause the undue hardship, and shall be signed by the owner or his or her authorized agent. The application shall be acted upon by the department within 30 days.
Application for a waiver is accomplished by making a written request to the MDEQ AQD District Supervisor. The applicant must demonstrate “financial hardship” which usually translates into losing the business if construction does not begin before the permit is issued.
Note that a waiver will not be granted unless an administratively complete permit application is received by the MDEQ. Construction can then proceed at the applicant’s risk as operation of the equipment is not authorized until the application is approved. Rarely is this a concern, however, as there are very few applications that are not approved in some form.
There are a couple of caveats with the rule. Waivers do not apply to any of the following:
Any activity that is subject to prevention of significant deterioration (PSD) regulations;
Facilities located in an area that is non-attainment for new source review;
Construction or reconstruction of a major source of hazardous air pollutants subject to 40 CFR Part 63 (MACT standards); and
Construction or modification subject to 40 CFR Part 61 (NESHAPs).
CFR has been preparing both permit-to-install applications and waiver requests for nearly 30 years. Contact CFR today to see how we can help.