To access the new interactive permit processing guide flowchart, please
We have developed this page to help you better understand the process of
obtaining an Air Pollution Permit in the San Joaquin Valley Air Basin.
Basic information regarding a number air pollution rules and standards are
included here, but it is not intended to serve as a substitute for the
Districtís Rule that contains air pollution regulations. Go to our Rules and Regulations page to
download free copies of individual District rules.
addition, we encourage potential applicants to contact one of our regional business
assistance offices. Our
small business assistance engineers can help you every step of the way towards
obtaining your Air Pollution Permit.
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Who needs an air pollution permit?
with equipment that may emit air pollution or is used for controlling air
pollution are subject to permit requirements. The District grants two types of permits:
- Authority to Construct
- Permit to Operate
Authority to Construct must be obtained before building or installing a new
emissions unit or modifying an existing emissions unit that requires a permit.
Permit to Operate is issued after all construction is completed and the
emission unit is ready for operation.
equipment is exempt from permit requirements. A permit is not usually required for repair and maintenance or identical
Rule 2020 (Exemptions) lists the types and sizes of devices that are
exempt from permitting requirements.
The District has developed a checklist which can provide further guidance in determining the District permitting and notification requirements for your project. Please click here for the checklist.
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Examples of Equipment Needing Permits
- Internal combustion engines greater than 50 hp
- Boilers and steam generators
- Mixing, blending or processing of any organic solvents, adhesives, or coatings
- Operations creating dust or smoke or involving incineration of any material
- Metal reclamation or refining of any liquids or solids
- Storage or use of solvents or motor fuels (except diesel)
- Storage or use of acids
- Operations involving chemical reactions
- Equipment handling asbestos, beryllium, hexavalent chromium, mercury, vinyl chloride, fluorides,
sulfuric acid mist, and hydrogen sulfide or other sulfur compounds
- Use of solvents for cleanup
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Examples of Facilities Needing Permits
Asphalt batch plants
|Concrete batch plants
Auto body shops
|Metal parts coating/plating
Wood products coating
Solid waste disposal
| Sand and Gravel operations
||Paint spray booths
Organic liquid storage
Solvent cleaners (degreasers)
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Rules that Apply to the Permitting Process
applying to various operations are adopted by the District as part of a plan to
meet state and federal air quality standards and are listed in the District
automotive body repair shop, for instance, may be subject to the requirements
of District Rule 4612 (Motor Vehicle and Mobile
Equipment Refinishing Operations). Some
prohibitory rules, such as 4201 (Particulate Matter
Concentration), apply to
all sources that emit a specific air contaminant. The prohibitory rules are a part of
Regulation IV in the District
Rules in Regulation
VII of the Rule apply
to specific sources of toxic air contaminants. District Rule 7012 (Hexavalent Chromium Cooling
Towers), for example
applies to cooling towers in which circulating water is exposed to the
that directly govern the permitting process are contained in Regulation II of the District Rule. For instance, Rules 2010 (Permits Required)
and 2020 (Exemptions) describe the equipment or operations that must obtain
2201 (New and Modified Source Review) is one of the most important rules
to project proponents, as its requirements apply to every facility installing
or modifying equipment that requires permits.
See What is New Source Review?,
below, for an overview of this rule.
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The Application Process
Any person building, altering or replacing any operation or equipment which may emit air contaminants has to first submit an application and obtain an Authority to Construct (ATC) from the Air District. The ATC must be obtained before the equipment is modified or brought on site, and can only be obtained once the District has determined that the proposal is complying with all air quality regulations.
Permit applications must be submitted to obtain the necessary permits and must contain all information necessary for the District to determine compliance with the requirements of all applicable District rules.
While the Districtís role is to regulate the operation of equipment and processes that emit air contaminants, the District has no authority over land use decisions. In fact, local land use agencies (i.e. city and county local governments) have authority over land use planning, and as such, authorize the location and construction of various facilities. It is only after those land-use and siting decisions are made that the District can make an official determination about whether the facility complies with air pollution regulations.
A permit application and instructions may be obtained by mail or in person from any of the three District offices, or by downloading them from our Application Forms page. Be sure to indicate the type of equipment that you wish to permit when requesting the application.
Scheduling a Pre-application Meeting
Applicants are encouraged to meet with District staff before submitting applications.
- Allow applicants to fully explain proposed projects and discuss timeframes in detail,
- Can help applicants to submit complete applications,
- Encourage discussion of compliance options, and
- Provide an opportunity for District staff to explain permit requirements (i.e., new BACT determinations, health risk issues, public noticing, etc.).
A pre-application meeting may be scheduled by contacting the Permit Service Division at the nearest District office, or by contacting one of the Districtís regional Small Business Assistance Offices. Additional information about the District Small Business Assistance program can be obtain by clicking on the following link: http://www.valleyair.org/busind/busasst/sba.htm
Applications may be submitted to any of the three regional District offices by mail or in person. All information requested in the application instructions should be included.
A nonrefundable application-filing fee for each permit unit is required pursuant to Rule 3010 (Permit Fee). The District will assess reasonable additional fees based upon expenses and the average weighted labor rate if the original application fee does not cover the time and effort required to evaluate the project. You will be notified in writing of the assessment of any additional fees in conjunction with notification that the application is deemed complete. Payment can be made by checks or money orders payable to the SJVAPCD or made online by clicking on the following link: http://www.valleyair.org/GovPay/govpay_idx.htm.
For some projects, such as installation of motor vehicle refueling equipment, complete applications may be processed within one hour. Many applications, however, are more complex and may take a number of months for the District to process. District involvement in a projectís early planning stages is very advantageous in most situations.
Once the District receives an application that requires a District engineering evaluation, it is entered into our Permit Administration System database and assigned to permit staff member. Within 30 days of receiving the project application, the assigned permit staff member will perform a preliminary review to determine if all the information needed to process the application is available.
When the Preliminary Review is done, the applicant is notified of the Districtís completeness determination. In case it is determined that information or application filing fees are missing, the application is deemed incomplete and a letter sent to the applicant identifying the missing information. State law allows an additional 30 days to review new information submitted. Once the District has all the information needed, the application is deemed complete and moves to the next step: the Final Review
Complete applications are assigned for final review on a first-come, first-served basis (based on the date the application was deemed complete). The assigned permit staff member will then proceed with the project engineering evaluation of the proposed project.
The evaluation review process involves calculating emissions, determining compliance with District Rule 2201, New Source Review (NSR) and all applicable prohibitory District Rules, performing a Risk Management Review, and ensuring that the proposed project complies with CEQA requirements.
NSR includes Best Available Control Technology (BACT), including performing a new BACT determination if needed, offset requirements, an Ambient Air Quality Analysis for certain projects, and public noticing when emissions exceed certain thresholds. Prohibitory Rules may be applicable to all projects (such as visible emissions limits) or specific to certain types of operations (such as boilers, engines, oilfield operations, automotive painting and drycleaners).
When project related emissions exceed certain thresholds as identified in District Rule 2201, NSR, section 5.4, a 30-day public notice is required before the District makes a final decision over the project.
For the Air District to issue ATC(s), the proposed equipment or operation must meet all the following criteria:
- Complying with all air quality rule requirements,
- Not exceeding health risk thresholds, or creating a significant risk, and
- Satisfying CEQA requirements.
In case the proposed equipment or operation does not comply with any of the above listed criteria, the ATC application will be denied.
Once the assigned permit staff member has completed his/her review, a lead/supervisory engineer reviews the project to ensure it is correct and that the Districtís high quality standards are upheld. The District Compliance Division then reviews the proposed permit conditions and the District makes a preliminary decision to approve or deny the project. If the decision is to approve the project, any required public noticing is performed (30 days when NSR public notice threshold is exceeded or when hazardous emissions increases occur within 1,000 feet of a K-12 school, 45 days if the facility has a Title V permit) and comments are addressed, then the Authority to Construct is issued.
If the decision is to deny, the District will contact the applicant to discuss what changes are needed to comply with the applicable Rules.
Most projects will be finalized within 30 days of being assigned for final review. Certain projects (such as emergency IC engines and auto body shops) will be issued within 30 days of being deemed complete, not including noticing time if required.
Projects can also be expedited, if there is an economic or environmental justification.
State law requires the District to act on an application (approve or deny) within 180 days of when the application was deemed complete, or when CEQA has been satisfied, whichever is later. Due to the potential length of time it may take to issue an Authority to Construct, it is recommended to submit permit applications as early as possible.
Permit Processing Guide Flowchart
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What happens after the application is evaluated?
Authority to Construct is Issued (see Quick Start Guide)
If the project meets all applicable requirements, the
applicant will be mailed an Authority to Construct. An applicant that has been granted an Authority to Construct is required
to notify the Compliance Division at the District office in his or her region
when the installation or modification is complete.
The Compliance Division will have an inspector visit
the site. The inspector will determine
whether the completed project was built in accordance with the design specified
in the application and/or if the completed project complies with District rules
and conditions contained within the Authority to Construct. The inspector will then give a
recommendation on the Permit to Operate.
Projects approved by Permit Services Division and the
Compliance Division will be billed for an annual permit fee. The permit fee schedules are contained in
District Rule 3020 in Regulation III of
the District Rule.
Permit to Operate is Issued
After receiving your permits in the mail, the person
receiving them should review them carefully. Permit holders are responsible for complying with all terms and
conditions of the permits. Comments on
the permit should be submitted to the Permit Services Division within 10 days
of receiving the permit.
The Permit to Operate, renewable every five years,
must be posted at the operation whenever possible. If the permit cannot be posted on the equipment, the Permit to
Operate must be posted within 25 feet of the equipment or be kept readily
available onsite at all times.
The frequency of routine inspections by the Districts
Compliance Division will vary depending on the size and category of the
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What is New Source Review (NSR)?
New sources of air pollution, and modifications of
existing sources must comply with District Rule 2201 (New and Modified Source
Review), also known as New Source Review or NSR. This rule is a component of Regulation
II of our District Rule. The NSR rule provides the mechanism for the District to issue permits to
new and expanding businesses without interfering with efforts to meet the state
and federal health-based air quality standards. NSR contains a couple of main requirements BACT and Offsets.
The best available air pollution control technology
(BACT) is required for new and modifying units that result in certain
calculated emissions increases. BACT
is, at a minimum, the most stringent control technique or limitation that has
been achieved in practice for the same class of source. However, if there is a more effective
control that is both technologically feasible and cost effective, or that is
contained in an approved implementation plan, the more effective control technique
must be used.
Emissions Offsets are emissions reductions that are
provided to offset emissions increases from new or modifying sources of air
pollution. District Rule 2201 requires
offsets for increases in allowed emissions above certain trigger levels.
Offsets, when required, may be provided by onsite or
offsite emissions reductions and must be real, surplus, quantifiable,
enforceable, and permanent. Offsets may
be obtained by purchasing emissions reduction credits from another party. Procedures for banking and use of emission
reduction credits are described in Rule 2301 (Emission Reduction Credit
Banking) in Regulation II of the
District Rule. A list of names and
addresses of owners of emission reduction credit certificates is available from
any of the regional District offices for a nominal fee, or may be downloaded
free from our ERC Certificate Holders
For larger projects, or for those with a potentially
significant health impact, New Source Review also requires public noticing of
preliminary decisions and/or analysis of alternate sites or processes.
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Risk Management Review / Ambient Air Quality Analysis Process
During the course of the project evaluation process, the District must perform an analysis to evaluate the potential impact of the proposed project on the health of the surrounding public. The District does not issue permits for projects that will create a significant health risk.
This analysis evaluates three areas of exposure:
- The cancer risk, defined as the long term exposure to the emissions from a project over a lifetime (70 years),
- The Acute Hazard Index, defined as the short term exposure to the maximum 1 hour emissions from a project, and
- The Chronic Hazard Index which is the long term non-cancer exposure, greater than 1 hour and less than or equal to 1 year, to the emissions from a project.
To perform a Risk Management Analysis, a complex computer modeling program is used to determine the concentration of the identified pollutant(s) at the location of the nearest resident(s) or worksite(s). The projected concentration of each pollutant is then compared to National and State standards, and is analyzed for the potential to create a health risk.
Projects or permit units with a cancer risk equal to or exceeding 1 in one million are required to satisfy Toxic Best Available Control Technology (T-BACT) requirements, by installing the best technology to control those emissions. Projects or total facilities with cancer risk equal to or exceeding 20 in one million are not approvable. Projects or total facilities with acute or chronic hazard index equal to or exceeding 1 are not approvable.
In addition, per District Rule 2201, an Ambient Air Quality Analysis (AAQA) is required to be performed for all New Source Review (NSR) projects subject to public notice. The purpose of the AAQA analysis is to determine whether a new or modified Stationary Source will cause or make worse a violation of a State or National ambient Air Quality Standard (AAQS).
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