On June 24, 2015, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) Natural Resources Board (NRB) approved a suite of proposed rules that will simplify, streamline and generally improve the State’s Air Management Permit Program. The proposed rule package was developed through a stakeholder input process, which included the WDNR’s Air Management Study Group. Specifically, the proposed rules would do the following:
- Exempt “natural minor sources” from the requirement to obtain an operation permit. Notably, the definition of “natural minor source” includes sources whose emissions would be above the major source threshold but for limitations established in a rule that has been approved by the Environmental Protection Agency as part of the State Implementation Plan.
- Allow a broader set of pre-permit activities to proceed while a minor source construction permit is pending approval. This would include installation of building supports or foundations, laying underground piping or conduit, erecting storage structures and paving. WDNR concluded that based on its experience, most facilities are able to demonstrate considerable economic hardship from delaying these types of activities while waiting for a minor source construction permit.
- Make minor source operation permits non-expiring except in limited circumstances.
- Allow the WDNR to revoke construction permits and minor source operation permits at closed facilities without first providing a 21-day advance written notice.
- Establish an exemption from construction and operation permit requirements for restricted use engines.
- Allow sources to burn high sulfur diesel fuel as long as emissions are controlled by the best available control technology pursuant to NR 445.09.
- Make a series of changes designed to clean up and clarify the existing air permitting rules.
The NRB’s approval of this draft rule package marks a significant milestone in the process of finalizing these rules. The proposed rules must undergo a series of additional rule-making procedures, including legislative review. Once finalized, these rules should provide a meaningful benefit to minor sources located in Wisconsin.