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ERA's Environmental Compliance Management Blog

Writing Compliance into Your Title V Air Permit

Posted by Alex Chamberlain

Alex Chamberlain is a writer for ERA Environmental Management Solutions.

Title V Air Compliance writing tips: complianceWhen it comes to Title V Air Permits, writing your permit is often just as difficult and confusing as doing the work of air emission compliance. This article is part of ERA’s series on Title V Air Permit writing, which is designed to help walk you through some of the most complex aspects of creating your Title V Air Permit.

Make no mistake, writing your Title V Air Permit properly is important: it can make the difference between your permit getting accepted or rejected, and has a big impact on how easy your own life will be throughout the year.

This article will deal with how to best write compliance enforcement and demonstration into your permit so that it’s as simple as possible for you to show your compliance.It will also meet all the expectations of your regulators during an audit.

The EPA has also prepared a more technical document for anyone looking to dig deep into the nitty grittyof this topic, but we’ve prepared this article to give you an understanding of the most important parts, in more accessible language. If you want to read the EPA documents after this, follow this link.

The Golden Rule of Title V Air Permit Compliance

The most important thing about writing compliance enforcement into your Title V Air Permit is that it must be practically enforceable. That means it must be written in a way that leaves no compliance loopholes and it must include answers to the basic 6 questions: Who, What, Where, When, How, and How Often.

What this all boils down to is that your permit needs to require a clear audit trail and recordkeeping that make sense for your processes that provide all the evidence an auditor would need to verify you are in compliance. This includes how often you monitor emissions, the testing methods, etc.

Above all, however, practically enforceable means that there is no vagueness that could inadvertedly make it impossible for the EPA to enforce or verify your compliance.

Answering the “How Often” Question

The EPA has some specific guidelines  about how you answer the How Often question.

Firstly, you cannot write in a compliance limit that uses Calendar Year limits, like “a limit of 100 tonnes per calendar year e.g. 2012-2013”. The EPA instead requires, at a minimum, for compliance to be determined on a 12-month rolling sum basis. What that means for you is that each month the emissions of the current month and the 11 previous months will need to get summed. For a straightforward guide to calculating this, check out this guide.

The record keeping for these rolling sums or rolling limits (however you decide to word them in your permit – both are acceptable), requires you to keep emission records for each month, and emission records that sum up all the emissions for the current month and the previous 11 months.

Secondly, you’ll need to avoid the common mistake of writing in compliance limit of a rolling average rather than a rolling sum or total. The EPA does not accept limits based on average emissions, as that allows for some months to reach emission levels that could cause significant deterioration to the local air quality.

Writing in Control Equipment

Although it may seem obvious, any control technology that is required to be used alongside a piece of equipment to reduce and/or monitor air emissions needs to have an explicit condition that says you will operate the control device.

For example, if you have a filter connected to one of your stacks, the Title V Air Permit will need a condition that says “The filter attached to Stack A will be operational” or “The filter will be operational anytime Stack A is in use”.

This requirement is to ensure the Title V Air Permit is practically enforceable and does not create a loophole based on the assumption that all control technology will operate as expected.

Compliance Calculations

Anytime you write in a permit condition that requires any sort of calculation or conversion, you will need to also include the equation that will be used along with all assumptions and constants.

Any Credible Evidence Counts

When writing your Title V Air Permit you cannot try to restrict the type of credible evidence that can be used by auditors to determine your compliance or noncompliance. Credible evidence is any type of evidence of emission data that is correctly and accurately collected (for example, engineer calculations or CEMS data), and it may or may not be mentioned by your Title V Air Permit.

What this boils down to is that your Title V Air Permit cannot be written in such a way that only evidence you control or can manipulate in your favor is considered to be valid.

For example, you cannot say in your Title V Air Permit that your monthly sampling data supersedes any CEMS data that your equipment produces. Both must be considered to be valid credible evidence, and either can be used during an audit.

The top tip for avoiding this problem is to eliminate all “buster” language in your permit. Buster language is any language that attempts to privileges certain types of data over others or makes excuses for noncompliance. For example, avoid terms like “these are the sole methods for…”, “Data type A will be preferences over data type B in the case of discrepancies”, or “noncompliance for regulation X is allowed under malfunction events”.

Making sure you write compliance conditions into your Title V Air Permit can be very specific and regulated, but by doing it right the first time, you’ll make your own work simpler when it comes time to actually execute your compliance activities. 

You can learn more about Title V Compliance in our free guide: The Title V Air Permit Handbook.


Download our Title V Air Permit Handbook


Alex Chamberlain

About the Author: Alex Chamberlain is a writer and blogger who regularly contributes to ERA Environmental Management Solutions' blog. You can find Alex on Google+LinkedIn & ERA's Environmental Compliance Blog

Topics: Environmental Compliance & Data Management, Emissions Management