Permit Streamlining Guidance Document
This page last reviewed January 11, 2011
Air pollution control districts and air quality management districts
in California are actively working to streamline the permitting process so
businesses can obtain permits more quickly, without compromising air
quality. This document, prepared by the California Air Pollution Control
Officers' Association and the California Air Resources Board, describes
ongoing and planned district programs to expedite permitting. It also
identifies measures the regulated community considers critical for improving
the air permitting process. The document is intended to serve as a
reference for districts to use in developing or expanding programs to
The document describes improvements districts have made in almost all aspects of the permitting process, including changes to application forms, in the way forms are submitted, in the way districts conduct evaluations of projects, and in the way permits are prepared. Some of these improvements are associated with requirements of the Air Pollution Permit Streamlining Act (Health and Safety Code sections 42320-42323; AB 2781), but the majority are measures that go well beyond those requirements and satisfy needs specific to the individual districts. The document also describes other district activities that may not necessarily expedite permitting, but improve the overall process.
Appendices referenced in this document contain more detailed descriptions of district programs and examples of district permitting materials. For copies of the appendices, please contact:
Permit Assistance Section Stationary Source Division California Air Resources Board
P.O. Box 2815
Sacramento, CA 95812
PERMIT STREAMLINING GUIDANCE DOCUMENT
Table of Contents
I. INTRODUCTION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1
II. BACKGROUND . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6
A. The Air Permitting Process . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6
B. Permit Streamlining . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8
III. AIR POLLUTION PERMIT STREAMLINING ACT (AB 2781) . . . . . . . . . 10
A. General Requirements . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
B. Precertification of Commonly Used Equipment . . . . . . . . . 11
C. Consolidated Facility Permitting . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13
D. Expedited Permitting for Minor, Moderate and Major Sources . . 14
E. Training and Certification Program . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16
F. Standardized Application Forms . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18
G. Combined Authority to Construct and Permit to Operate . . . . 19
H. Appeals Process . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20
I. Small Business Assistance Program . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20
IV. OTHER STREAMLINING EFFORTS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22
A. Assist Applicants in Submitting Complete Applications . . . . 22
B. Applications: Acknowledge Receipt and Expedite Review . . . . 24
C. Increase Permit Processing Efficiency . . . . . . . . . . . . 25
D. Increase Efficiency of District CEQA Review . . . . . . . . . 31
E. Reduce the Number of Permits Processed . . . . . . . . . . . . 31
F. Improve Communication with the Regulated Community . . . . . . 33
G. Coordinate with Other Agencies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36
H. Other Efforts to Improve Air Programs . . . . . . . . . . . . 38
V. COMMENTS FROM CAPCOA/ARB PUBLIC WORKSHOP ON PERMIT STREAMLINING . 41
A. District and Air Resources Board Contacts for Permit Streamlining
B. Flowcharts of Generalized Permitting Process
C. Legal Requirements Related to Permit Streamlining
D. Equipment Certification Program
E. Expedited Permitting for Minor, Moderate and Major Sources
F. Training and Certification Program
G. Air Quality Training Programs
H. Air Resources Board Course Descriptions
I. Pre-Application Forms
J. Standard Completeness Letters and Information Sheets
K. Sources Included in Permit Processing Handbooks
L. Permitting Criteria
M. CAPCOA Recommendations for District Permit Exemptions
N. Brochures and Permit Assistance Materials
O. Permit Processing Surveys
P. Proposed Plan for Developing a Small Business Assistance Program
Q. Coordination with Building/Planning Departments
R. Reporting and Recordkeeping
S. Proposal for Streamlining Permitting and Recordkeeping
* Appendices are available from the Air Resources Board, see ABSTRACT above.
What is the purpose of this document?
The purpose of this document is to share information among the Air
Pollution Control Districts (APCDs) and Air Quality Management Districts
(AQMDs) on the types of programs that can be implemented to streamline the air
permitting process. It also identifies measures the regulated community
considers critical for improving permitting. Individual districts may use
this information as a reference for developing or expanding programs to
expedite permitting in their district.
This guideline document describes ongoing and planned district programs to expedite the air permitting process. A number of districts have made changes in the way they process permit applications in order to reduce the time it takes for businesses to get a permit, without compromising air quality. These changes are designed to make the existing permitting system operate more efficiently; they do not change the laws that protect air quality or the basic structure of the air permitting process. Although these activities were developed independently by districts in response to their individual needs, other districts may benefit from similar programs.
One area where sharing of information could be particularly valuable is in meeting the requirements of the Air Pollution Permit Streamlining Act (Health and Safety Code sections 42320-42323; AB 2781, Sher). This Act requires the largest districts (i.e., those with a population greater than 250,000) to adopt, by regulation, expedited permitting systems which include specific elements (see Chapter III). Some districts currently have or are planning to implement programs to satisfy those requirements. Their experience may be valuable to other districts that must also comply with the Act.
To obtain input from the regulated community on how the permitting process should be improved, a public workshop was held on October 28, 1993. Industry representatives assisted the California Air Pollution Control Officers' Association (CAPCOA) and the California Air Resources Board (ARB) in planning and conducting the workshop. Representatives from businesses, other regulated entities, consultants, districts, and other agencies provided extensive comments on changes that could be made to improve the permitting process. These comments are contained in Chapter V.
Who prepared this document?
Staff of the ARB prepared this document at the request of the CAPCOA Permit Streamlining Committee. The Permit Streamlining Committee consists of representatives of local Air Pollution Control Districts and Air Quality Management Districts, and the ARB. Information contained in the document is based on two surveys of the 34 air districts in the state, permitting program descriptions and materials provided by districts, and extensive discussions with the Permit Streamlining Committee and other air districts. Comments from the regulated community were obtained at the CAPCOA/ARB public workshop on permit streamlining.
What aspects of the permitting process are being streamlined?
Most streamlining measures apply to the processing of applications for an
authority to construct a new or modified facility. The authority to construct
is the first of a two step process for operating a source that has the
potential to emit air pollutants. As described in Section II.A., the process
for issuing an authority to construct requires the applicant to submit
project-specific information to the district and for the district to evaluate
the proposed project relative to district rules and regulations. This process
can be fairly lengthy and is the critical step in obtaining the necessary air
permits for a facility to operate. The second step, the permit to operate, is
issued after the applicant demonstrates that the facility is operating in
compliance with district rules and regulations, and in accordance with the
conditions of the authority to construct.
Districts have made changes, some relatively minor and others fairly major, in almost all aspects of the authority to construct process. These modifications are the result of careful evaluation by the districts of their permitting programs to determine where beneficial changes could be made without compromising air quality. Modifications have been made to application forms, in the way the forms are submitted, in the way the district conducts its evaluation of the project, and in the way permits are prepared. While some of the measures may not appear significant when viewed separately, taken together and multiplied by the number of applications processed, the overall effect is to expedite permitting.
Many of the streamlining measures are designed to speed up the authority to construct process for small sources. Small sources, such as dry cleaners and spray booths, are fairly standard and can be evaluated quickly using standardized approaches. By reducing the staff time involved in processing applications for small sources, more district resources are available to process applications for larger sources. Therefore, the overall permitting efficiency improves.
What are key programs to streamlining the air permitting process?
Key programs described in this document include both measures required by the Air Pollution Permit Streamlining Act (Chapter III) and additional measures districts are implementing (Chapter IV). These are summarized below in the order they appear in the document.
- Pre-certification allows for quick permitting of simple, commonly used equipment that has been previously evaluated by the district.
- Expedited permitting of minor, moderate, and major sources allows for faster permitting of smaller sources while maintaining more lengthy review time necessary for larger, complex sources.
- Standardized application forms specific to source types make it easier for the applicant to submit all information necessary for an application to be deemed complete.
- Pre-application meetings improve communication between districts and applicants regarding the permitting process, information required in the application, and likely permit conditions.
- Identifying a district contact and application number, together with district tracking systems, make it easier for applicants to follow the progress of their applications through the permitting process.
- Expediting the initial review of applications for completeness and clearly identifying missing information enable applicants to complete their applications sooner.
- Standard policies, procedures, control technologies, and permit conditions let applicants know up front what will be required for their project and how to submit an application that can be quickly permitted.
- Use of computers allows for tracking applications, greater standardization of district evaluations and permits, and expedited permitting, including over-the-counter permitting.
- A statewide program for portable equipment being developed by CAPCOA will reduce the need for multiple permitting of equipment that is operated in more than one location in the state.
- Improved communication includes several of the measures listed above as well as informational brochures, workshops, client feedback, and small business assistance programs.
- Coordination with other agencies reduces potential duplication or conflict in permitting and inspections.
- Streamlining recordkeeping and reporting would make requirements simpler and more commensurate with emission potential.
What are the recommendations of the regulated community?
A CAPCOA/ARB public workshop was held on October 28, 1993, to obtain
comments on how districts could streamline the permitting process and which
measures should be highest priority. The workshop was attended by
representatives from businesses and other regulated entities, consultants, air
districts, the ARB, and other agencies. To allow for maximum participation,
the workshop included "break-out" sessions facilitated by industry
representatives. A pre-workshop meeting was held with the facilitators and
other industry representatives to plan the workshop and identify key concerns
in permit streamlining. Extensive comments were received at the workshop and
the pre-workshop meeting; many comments supported measures already being
implemented and described in this document, and others offered new ideas.
Based on the comments received, the issues of primary concern to the regulated
community can be grouped into three areas: improved communication, expedited
permitting, and greater standardization within districts and statewide.
Improved communication is a broad category that encompasses a number of efforts districts are pursuing to help the regulated community understand the districts' programs, obtain permits, and operate in compliance with district rules and regulations. The regulated community would like to see districts expand those efforts and, in addition, adopt a non-adversarial "customer service" attitude. Participants supported the use of pre-application meetings, permitting manuals, application tracking mechanisms, brochures, workshops, and economic development corporations to help business understand permitting and compliance requirements. Suggestions were made to involve industry early in the development of new regulations, to have more interactive workshops that allow for increased industry input to the process, and to give industry early warning about district programs that may affect long-term industry plans. Workshop participants also urged districts to use more advanced communication technologies, such as E-mail, computerized bulletin boards, electronic data submittal, and integrated databases.
Expedited permitting was identified as a high priority to the workshop participants. There was support for tiered permitting and precertification programs that are being implemented in some districts. Workshop participants would like to see precertification programs expanded to include more equipment and to be made uniform among districts. The idea of expediting critical applications for an increased fee was also encouraged, if the program would not slow permitting of other sources.
Workshop participants recommended more standardization within and between districts. For example, it would be easier for the regulated community if application forms, permitting policies and procedures, emission control requirements and reporting requirements could be more uniform.
Workshop comments are listed in Chapter V and noted throughout the document.
Do the streamlining measures in this document apply to all districts?
While the intent of this document is to share information about ongoing permit streamlining programs, it should not be assumed that all programs would expedite permitting in all districts. Districts differ substantially in the number and types of permits they issue; very small districts may process as few as one or two applications each year, while the largest district processes about 20,000 applications each year. Smaller districts typically do not require permits for smaller sources; in larger districts, half or more of the applications they receive are for smaller sources. Some of the streamlining measures described in this document require substantial staff time to develop. Since large districts process so many applications, the time spent in developing many of the streamlining measures discussed in this document is more than made up by the reduced time needed for processing individual permit applications. However, this may not be true for all districts. For example, a program that may expedite permitting in one district could slow permitting in another district where it is not needed.
Are there streamlining efforts not included in this document?
The programs described in this document, for the most part, represent streamlining efforts at the districts who participate in the CAPCOA Committee on Permit Streamlining. Those districts are among the larger districts in the state. Therefore, this document may not represent all streamlining efforts ongoing at the districts, particularly smaller districts. Omission of any district programs does not reflect on the value of those programs.
How is this document organized?
Chapter II provides background on the air permitting process in
California and the need to streamline that process. Chapters III and IV
summarize ongoing and planned district activities to expedite permitting. Specifically, Chapter III describes the requirements of the Air Pollution
Permit Streamlining Act, and district activities that are consistent with
those requirements. Chapter IV describes additional efforts districts are
making to streamline permitting and other district activities which are not
necessarily designed to expedite permitting, but also improve the permitting
process. Chapter V lists comments received at the CAPCOA/ARB public workshop
on permit streamlining.
The text of the document summarizes the different streamlining measures. More complete descriptions of district programs and examples of district permitting materials are contained in appendices which can be obtained from the ARB at the address listed inside the cover of this document. Additional documents, such as application forms and standardized permit conditions, are available from individual districts and, where noted, from the ARB.
A. THE AIR PERMITTING PROCESS
To provide a framework for the discussion of streamlining measures in Chapters III and IV, this section summarizes the legal requirements and typical process for permitting stationary sources of air pollution in California.
The Health and Safety Code gives the Air Pollution Control Districts and Air Quality Management Districts responsibility for permitting new and modified facilities, consistent with the attainment and maintenance of air quality standards. Section 42300 et seq. of the Health and Safety Code requires that the district permit system:
a. ensure that permitted sources will not prevent or interfere with attainment or maintenance of any applicable air quality standard; b. prohibit the issuance of a permit until the air pollution control officer is satisfied that the source will comply with all applicable orders, rules and regulations of the district and of the state; c. require that each permit be reviewed annually to determine that permit conditions are adequate to ensure compliance with and enforceability of district rules and regulations; and d. provide for the reissuance or transfer of a permit to a new owner or operator of the source.
District rules and regulations define the procedure and criteria districts use in permitting facilities. Although specific rules vary by district, the general procedure for permitting sources is the same throughout the state. Applicants must obtain an authority to construct before beginning construction, and a permit to operate after the completed facility demonstrates compliance with district rules and regulations and the facility's permit conditions. The following paragraphs summarize the process common to most districts; this information is also presented in "Flowcharts of Generalized Permitting Process" (see Figures 1 and 2 in Appendix B).
1. Submittal of Application for an Authority to Construct
The air permitting process for new and modified sources begins with the submittal of an application for an authority to construct. The required contents of an application typically include the following: a description of the project and the basic equipment, calculated emissions from each component and total emissions from the project, description of air pollution control technology, air quality analyses, and any proposals for air quality impact mitigation.
2. District Review of Application for an Authority to Construct
Once an application for an authority to construct is submitted, the district has 30 days to determine if the application is complete. If the application is not complete, the district will inform the applicant of what additional information is needed. The applicant can then add to or modify the application and resubmit it to the district.
After an application is deemed complete, the district prepares an engineering analysis. This analysis documents emissions calculations, compliance with district and state air quality regulations, assumptions used to evaluate the acceptability of the project, and conditions of design and operation required to achieve and maintain compliance.
3. The CEQA Process in Permitting
Before the district can issue or deny a permit for a project which may have a significant effect on the environment, the project must comply with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). The purpose of CEQA is to ensure that a project's environmental impacts and alternatives are disclosed to governmental decision-makers and the general public, and that any impacts are mitigated to the maximum extent feasible. The CEQA applies to governmental decisions that require the exercise of judgement or deliberation (i.e., "discretionary activities"), as opposed to decisions involving only objective measurements without the use of personal subjective judgement regarding the wisdom or manner of carrying out a project. In addition, CEQA does not apply to statutorily or categorically exempt projects, which are defined in CEQA and the CEQA Guidelines (14 CCR section 21000 et seq.). If CEQA does apply to a project, the lead agency, typically the local land use agency, oversees the preparation of a negative declaration or an environmental impact report (EIR). After the document is subject to public review and approved by the lead agency, the district must review the environmental document and make appropriate findings prior to making its decision on the application.
4. Issuance of an Authority to Construct
Under state law, the district must make a decision to approve or disapprove an application for an authority to construct within a set period of time. If CEQA is triggered, the district must make its decision within one year (if the district is the lead agency) or 180 days (if it is a responsible agency) from the date the EIR is certified or the application is deemed complete, whichever is later. If CEQA does not apply, the district has 180 days after the application is deemed complete.
If a proposed project complies with all district rules and regulations and CEQA is satisfied, the district issues an authority to construct for each piece of equipment or for an entire facility, depending on district procedures. The authority to construct specifies facility design, conditions for operation, and emission limits. This permit allows the applicant to construct the facility. In some cases, the district authorizes the authority to construct to also serve as a temporary permit to operate, allowing the applicant to conduct operational shakedown of equipment for a limited period of time.
5. Issuance of a Permit to Operate
After the project is constructed, the district usually conducts an inspection to ensure that it complies with permit conditions regarding facility design. Source tests may also be required to demonstrate compliance with emission limits. Once the district is satisfied that the project can operate in compliance with its regulations, a permit to operate is issued. The Health and Safety Code requires annual review of all permits to determine that permit conditions are adequate to ensure compliance with, and the enforceability of, district rules and regulations applicable to the equipment. In addition, the project must demonstrate compliance with the permit conditions for the life of the project. This is often achieved by periodic or continuous testing of emissions, or recording of operating parameters. Districts also make periodic inspections.
The existing process of issuing a permit to operate is being modified for major sources, as required by regulations developed under Title V of the Federal Clean Air Act amendments. The intent is to improve the federal enforceability of operating permits. The regulations specify the minimum requirements for operating permit programs, including standardized application forms for permits to operate and criteria and timelines for review. In addition, the regulations allow a permit to operate to be valid for up to five years, as long as there are provisions for reopening the permit when necessary (e.g., if upon annual review permit terms need to be added or amended).
B. PERMIT STREAMLINING
The permit processing system described above was first established when districts permitted primarily large sources of air pollution. In more populated areas of the state, this was not sufficient to attain and maintain the air quality standards, so smaller sources of air pollution are now permitted and controlled. This has increased the workload at those districts and, in some cases, slowed the issuance of permit decisions. A number of districts, particularly larger districts that process greater numbers of permit applications, have investigated ways to improve the existing system, so applications can be processed more quickly, without having a detrimental effect on air quality. As a result, several districts have implemented changes, some minor and some fairly major, to various aspects of their permitting process. For the most part, these streamlining activities at the districts have been developed independently, yet they often address similar permitting concerns. Most streamlining measures implemented or under consideration by the districts are designed to do one or more of the following:
1) improve the completeness of the applications received;
2) expedite the districts' review once applications are complete;
3) improve communication with applicants.
The result of these efforts is that permits, particularly for smaller sources, are issued more quickly. In some districts, permits for small, commonly used equipment can be obtained in less than an hour, if they meet specified conditions. Besides benefitting those applicants, district workload is reduced.
In addition to individual district efforts to improve their permitting process, the state legislature last year enacted a number of statutes that require or allow districts to adopt specific programs to streamline their permitting process. In particular, the Air Pollution Permit Streamlining Act, which went into effect in September 1992, requires the largest districts to establish expedited permitting processes containing specific elements described in Chapter III.
AIR POLLUTION PERMIT STREAMLINING ACT (AB 2781)
This chapter describes the requirements of the Air Pollution Permit
Streamlining Act and district activities that are consistent with the intent
of the Act.
A. GENERAL REQUIREMENTS
The Air Pollution Permit Streamlining Act (Health and Safety Code section 42320-42323; AB 2781, Sher), which went into effect in September 1992, requires districts to review their permit programs and to institute new, efficient procedures, if they haven't done so already. The purpose is to assist business in complying with air quality laws in an expedited fashion, without reducing protection of public health and the environment. The Act is
included in Appendix C.
The Act requires districts with populations of 250,000 or more people to adopt, by regulation, an expedited permit system which includes elements specified in the statute. There are currently ten districts with populations of 250,000 or more people: Bay Area AQMD, Mojave Desert AQMD, Monterey Bay Unified APCD, Sacramento Metropolitan AQMD, San Diego County APCD, San Joaquin Valley Unified APCD, Santa Barbara County APCD, South Coast AQMD, Ventura County APCD, and the Yolo-Solano AQMD.
The ARB is required to assist districts with populations under 1,000,000 people in developing regulations implementing these requirements. The districts that ARB is required to assist includes Mojave Desert AQMD, Monterey Bay Unified APCD, Santa Barbara County APCD, Ventura County APCD, and Yolo- Solano AQMD. In addition to this required assistance, the ARB will assist other districts in developing measures to streamline permitting.
Some of the districts already have programs or plan to have programs that are consistent with the requirements of the Streamlining Act. The specific streamlining elements required under the Act are described below, along with a description of related district activities. It should be noted that to comply with the Act, these measures must be adopted by the districts as regulations.
B. PRECERTIFICATION OF COMMONLY USED EQUIPMENT
1. Requirement to precertify commonly used equipment
The Streamlining Act requires affected districts to establish "a precertification program for equipment which is mass-produced and operated by numerous sources under the same or similar conditions." The goal of this requirement is to allow applicants to obtain permits for commonly used equipment as quickly as possible and with minimal paperwork. For districts, establishing such a program could require substantial resources, but the time for issuing individual permits would be reduced.
Participants at the CAPCOA/ARB public workshop on permit streamlining commented that precertification should be a high priority program. Suggestions were made that more equipment should be precertified, that more districts should precertify equipment, and that there should be more uniformity between districts, possibly through a state-wide precertification program. See Chapter V for additional comments.
2. District activities to precertify commonly used equipment
Currently, one district has a formalized precertification program. The South Coast AQMD certifies simple, commonly used off-the-shelf equipment under their Equipment Certification Program (see Appendix D). The program's goals are to expedite permit processing without decreasing the level of permit evaluation, to reduce permit process fees, to ensure use of best available control technology (BACT), and to provide buyers with conditional operating parameters prior to obtaining permits.
The Equipment Certification Program allows equipment manufacturers to have their equipment certified voluntarily by the district to assure compliance with district rules and regulations, including BACT, offset requirements, and toxic rules. To certify equipment, the district's evaluation follows the same procedure as a typical evaluation for a permit to construct (the South Coast AQMD uses the term "permit to construct" instead of "authority to construct"). Once the evaluation is completed and results are satisfactory, the district transfers the equipment information to the district's computer assisted permit processing system (see Section IV.C.5) and issues a "certified equipment permit" for that make and model of equipment. The permit is good for one year, unless an extension is granted by the district. This permit is not an actual permit to construct, since buyers of the equipment must still apply for permits under the district's "Registration Program." The benefit for the buyer is receipt of the permits under a very expedited schedule.
The buyer of certified equipment receives with the equipment a model- specific end-user package, including an application form and the required permit conditions. After submitting the application form to the district, the applicant receives the permit to construct and permit to operate within three working days, at a reduced cost. In receiving the permits, the applicant agrees to use the certified equipment only within the parameters specified in the permit (if an applicant wishes to have different permit conditions, the normal permit process is followed). Equipment certified under this program is subject to the district's typical compliance program, including, where appropriate, source testing, emission quantification, recordkeeping, toxic reviews and compliance testing.
The South Coast AQMD currently has certified equipment in the following categories: emergency internal combustion engines, abrasive blasting equipment, dry cleaning equipment, charbroilers, soil remediation equipment, small boilers, and automotive spray booths. Other types of equipment may be certified in the future.
3. Related district activities to precertify commonly used equipment
Some other districts also offer expedited permitting for commonly used equipment operated under similar conditions. In those districts, manufacturers do not apply for inclusion in the program, rather inclusion is based on the district's determination that the equipment is suitable for quick, standardized permitting. Equipment information, engineering evaluations, and standard permit conditions are programmed into the computer, so when an application is submitted, only the project-specific information needs to be input. District staff then checks the evaluation and conditions, and in many cases, issues a permit over the counter. To qualify for this very quick permitting, the equipment must meet certain criteria, for example, it can not be located within 1000 feet of a school, trigger toxics review, or need permit conditions other than the standard conditions. It should be noted that expedited permitting does not affect district requirements for compliance inspections and renewal of operating permits.
Examples of expedited permitting for commonly used equipment include San Joaquin Valley Unified APCD's program to issue an authority to construct over the counter for service stations, dry cleaners and oil field sump replacements. Offsets are not required for these types of sources in this district. The authority to construct is issued in about 20 minutes. If the applicant chooses not to wait while the permit is prepared, it can be sent by mail within 2 weeks.
The San Diego County APCD has prepared a list of certified dry cleaning equipment that can be permitted over the counter within an hour. When installation is complete, the business notifies the district and receives permission for a 30-day shake down. The district inspects the facility during the shake down period and issues the permit to operate. A separate application for the permit to operate is not required.
The San Diego APCD is also pre-approving small cold solvent degreasers that recently came under their permitting rules. The manufacturer of the most common degreasers provided the district with information on the equipment, which the district approved. Users of those degreasers receive permits under an expedited schedule.
Other districts currently expedite, or plan to expedite, permitting of certain commonly used equipment. The Kern County APCD precertifies IC engines. Computer automated permitting of gasoline stations and dry cleaning equipment allows Ventura County APCD to permit these common sources in no more than 30 days, and typically within 7 to 14 days after receiving a complete application. The Sacramento Metropolitan AQMD is planning to precertify dry cleaning, vapor recovery and, possibly, sand blasting equipment. The Bay Area AQMD is currently developing an automated permitting program for quickly approving or denying a combined authority to construct and permit to operate for sterilizers, autobody shops, solvent degreasers, gasoline dispensing facilities, and dry cleaners. A program to precertify commonly used equipment is also planned in Santa Barbara County APCD.
C. CONSOLIDATED FACILITY PERMITTING
1. Requirement to consolidate facility permitting
The Air Pollution Permit Streamlining Act requires districts with 250,000 people or more to establish a consolidated permitting process for any source that requires more than one permit. This section of the Act specifies that sources (in this context, "sources" is understood to mean "facilities") must be permitted on a facility or project basis, there must be a single point of contact for the permit applicant, and a source must be reviewed and permitted on a single consolidated schedule.
This requirement is intended to alleviate problems that can result when very large districts have several staff processing applications for different pieces of equipment that are part of the same complex facility. When the applications are processed separately, the permit decisions can be made at different times, and it can be difficult to keep track of the status of each application. This section of the Act would benefit applicants of complex facilities by giving them more certainty on the timeline for permitting the entire facility and by giving them a single contact at the district where they could find out how applications for the entire project are progressing.
Participants at the CAPCOA/ARB public workshop on permit streamlining commented that the ability to track applications is critical to business. See
2. District activities to consolidate facility permitting
Districts currently have different approaches to permitting complex projects. About half of all districts issue a single permit for an entire facility, generally with conditions and emissions limitations for specific pieces of equipment. Other districts issue separate permits for each emission unit, sometimes on a single schedule.
The need for a single point of contact is not a concern in smaller districts where there are few permitting engineers. In medium and larger districts, applicants are typically given the name of the permitting engineer who serves as the primary contact. A reorganization at the South Coast AQMD consolidated all permitting, enforcement and rules staff by industry type that they serve. Applications for complex facilities are now handled within the industry group, eliminating previous problems with multiple contacts. See Sections IV.B.1 and IV.C.6 for more information on efforts to assist applicants in tracking progress of applications.
D. EXPEDITED PERMITTING FOR MINOR, MODERATE AND MAJOR SOURCES
1. Requirement to expedite permitting schedule
The Air Pollution Permit Streamlining Act requires districts with populations of 250,000 people or more to establish an expedited permit review schedule, based upon the types and amounts of pollution emitted from sources. Each affected district is required to classify sources within its jurisdiction as a minor, moderate or major source of air pollution, and to establish a permit action schedule for each classification for approving or disapproving a permit application.
Most district rules currently have only one schedule for processing applications, regardless of the size of the project. In almost all cases, the rules specify that the district must issue a decision to approve or deny an application for an authority to construct within 180 days from the time an application is deemed complete or the EIR is certified, if CEQA applies. If the district is the lead agency under CEQA, it has one year to issue its decision on the authority to construct application (see Section II.A.3). Although complex projects may need the full 180 days for review, simpler projects, which generally have lower emission rates, can often be processed in less time. The length of time it takes to issue permit decisions for simpler projects can be more of a result of permit backlog than actual processing time. This section of the Act puts higher priority on smaller projects, requiring districts to handle these projects separately, rather than on a "first come, first served" basis with the larger projects.
At the CAPCOA/ARB public workshop on permit streamlining, there was support for the concept of tiered permitting. Comments were made that the tiers should be based on the complexity of the project, not on emission rates. See Chapter V for additional comments on tiered permitting and other expedited permitting.
2. District activities to expedite permitting schedule
a. Expedited schedules for sources with low emission rates
In 1992, the South Coast AQMD adopted a practice of processing applications for small sources within 7 days, medium sources within 30 days, and large sources within 180 days of the application being deemed complete. The source categories are based on criteria including: emission level of criteria air pollutants, public noticing requirements, toxics risk, CEQA requirements, and modeling and offsets requirements. Since the district began the program, one third of all applications have qualified for expedited permitting; about 24 percent meet the criteria for 7 day permitting and 9 percent for 30 day permitting. More detailed information is contained in the district document "7/30/180 Day Permit Application Pre-Screening Guidelines" (see Appendix E). The district is able to meet these short timelines by using computer automated processing of applications (see Section IV.C.5).
The Santa Barbara County APCD is also proposing emissions-based schedules for small, medium and large pollution sources. Permits for small sources with relatively little air quality impact will be processed more rapidly than projects that carry more potential to affect air quality. See Appendix S for Santa Barbara County APCD's proposed program to streamline permitting.
Other districts have or are considering expedited permitting for some types of commonly used equipment, which have low emission rates. As described in Section III.B.3, several districts issue permits for certain low-emitting equipment under an expedited schedule, in some cases within an hour. The Yolo-Solano APCD issues permit decisions for gasoline dispensing facilities, dry cleaners and paint booths within 30 days of receiving a complete application. The Sacramento Metropolitan AQMD permits gasoline dispensing facilities three days after receiving a complete application. Minor and moderate sources are permitted by the Modoc County APCD within 30 days, and major sources within 60 days of receiving all necessary information. Permitting in these districts achieves the goal of quickly permitting smaller sources while maintaining more lengthy review times necessary for larger, more complex sources.
b. Shorter overall review time
In addition to expedited permitting for commonly used equipment with low emission rates, several districts have policies or rules requiring a permit decision on an authority to construct in less than 180 days. The Glenn County APCD for example, has a policy of issuing permit decisions within 30 days of receiving a complete application. This is extended with the applicant's consent, when necessary.
The Bay Area AQMD rules require a determination on an application for an authority to construct for a new or modified source within 60 days of it being deemed complete. This shortened review time does not apply, however, to applications for sources near school boundaries (within 1,000 feet) or those required to meet the provisions for New Source Review. Furthermore, if the review and approval of a final EIR or Negative Declaration prepared as part of the application exceeds the 60 day period, the district must make a determination on the application within 30 days of review or approval.
c. Expedited permitting on request
In addition to the shorter review times described in Sections III.D.2.(a) and (b), a few districts will expedite the processing of applications on request. The applicant must demonstrate a reasonable need, and in some districts, pay an extra fee for this service. Districts that offer this kind of expedited review include the Santa Barbara County APCD, the San Diego County APCD, the Kern County APCD, and the Sacramento Metropolitan AQMD. The Bay Area AQMD is considering offering expedited review on request.
Some participants at the CAPCOA/ARB public workshop on permit streamlining supported the idea of paying increased fees to have expedited evaluation of certain permit applications, if it would not slow the processing of other applications. The extra fee could be used to hire additional staff to handle these expedited applications. It was suggested that a very large premium be charged to discourage applicants from requesting this kind of expedited permitting for all applications. See Chapter V for additional workshop comments.
E. TRAINING AND CERTIFICATION PROGRAM
1. Requirement for training and certification program
Another requirement of the Air Pollution Permit Streamlining Act is for districts to establish "a training and certification program for the private sector personnel, in order to establish a pool of professionals who can certify businesses as being in compliance with district rules and regulations." This requirement of the Act does not specify the elements of a training program, except that it must include a compliance element. Rather, the Act allows districts to establish programs best suited to the individual district's needs. For example, training programs could include elements to train private sector personnel to prepare complete applications, to conduct engineering evaluations that the district typically conducts, or to inspect operating facilities for compliance with rules and regulations. Most affected districts appear to be considering training consultants to prepare more complete applications.
The intent of this section of the Streamlining Act is to expedite
permitting by reducing the workload at the district. If certified
professionals conduct engineering evaluations for some sources, district staff
would only need to check the work, rather than perform the evaluation.
Inspections by certified professionals would need to be periodically checked,
but staff would be saved from making each inspection. Training certified
professionals to prepare applications would likely result in applications
being more complete when they are first submitted to the district. Since
districts have identified incomplete applications as one of the main areas of
delay in processing permits, having complete applications submitted should
expedite the permit decision. See Section IV.A for other district efforts to
improve the completeness of applications.
2. Other training and certification options
Health and Safety Code section 42300.2 allows districts to establish a program to certify private environmental professionals to prepare permit applications. If such a program is established, it must contain specific requirements which are described in detail in Appendix C and summarized below:
1) certification of professionals who meet district established
2) expedited review by district staff of permit applications
prepared by certified professionals,
3) an audit program to determine whether district requirements for
the preparation of applications have been followed, and
4) decertification of certified professionals under specified
3. District activities related to training and certification
The South Coast AQMD has established and is now operating a voluntary program to train professionals to prepare accurate and complete permit applications. Persons who elect to enroll in the program are required, for a fee, to complete three days of training on all aspects of permit applications, as well as to pass an exam. Successful completion earns the applicant the designation as a "certified permitting professional." Certified permitting professionals prepare applications containing all statements, calculations, and evaluations necessary to determine whether the equipment can be permitted in compliance with district rules and regulations. The professionals are given some access to the district's database resources to assist in preparing this information. District staff can issue permit decisions for applications prepared by certified permitting professionals in less time, since they need only review the application and not perform the primary evaluation. See Appendix F for additional information on the training program at the South Coast AQMD.
Other districts, such as the San Diego County APCD, are looking at air quality training programs conducted by the University of California (U.C.) Extension as a means of satisfying this requirement of the Air Pollution. Permit Streamlining Act. All campuses of the U.C. Extension offer courses on air quality management, and some have certificate programs that include a full curriculum of courses on air pollution (see Appendix G). The programs at each campus are independent, but most campuses offer courses on air quality permitting, air pollution laws and regulations, fundamentals of air pollution, air pollution control systems and strategies, and principles of environmental toxicology. Several campuses of the U.C. Extension have indicated an interest in developing a regional or statewide training and certification program designed to meet the requirements of the Air Pollution Permit Streamlining Act.
The Ventura County APCD is considering using the U.C. Extension courses on Air Quality Permitting as optional background training for consultants interested in receiving district certification. In addition, the district would administer a mandatory one-day course specific to the district's permitting program. Consultants would need to pass a district exam before being certified.
The San Joaquin Valley Unified APCD is exploring the establishment of a program to train consultants to do engineering evaluations that are currently done by district engineering staff. The district would still check the evaluations, but time would be saved by just checking, rather than actually performing the evaluation.
Air pollution training courses are also offered by the Air Resources Board Compliance Division through its Uniform Air Quality Training Program. This program was established to provide statewide consistency in inspection procedures and a basic education foundation for air pollution control professionals. While not specifically intended to meet the training and certification requirement of the Air Pollution Permit Streamlining Act, courses offered by the ARB could assist in training private environmental professionals. Courses offered by the ARB Compliance Division are described in Appendix H.
F. STANDARDIZED APPLICATION FORMS
1. Requirement for standardized application forms
The Air Pollution Permit Streamlining Act also requires the affected districts to develop standardized permit application forms that are written in clear and understandable language and provide applicants with adequate information to complete and return the forms.
Standardized application forms were considered by participants at the CAPCOA/ARB public workshop to be a high priority for improving permitting. Comments were made that forms specific to common types of equipment make it easier for applicants to provide all the information necessary for an application to be deemed complete. Statewide standardized forms were also strongly recommended. See Chapter V for a complete list of workshop comments.
2. District activities to standardize application forms
Districts, for the most part, have their own application forms that are used for applying for permits. The purpose of application forms is to obtain from the applicant all the information necessary to determine if the proposed project will meet district rules and regulations. Since permitting rules vary by district, due in part to attainment status, necessary information can vary. Applications typically request information regarding the applicant, the project location, equipment, fuel or materials usage, emissions, control technology, and mitigation, as applicable.
As discussed in Section IV.A, incomplete applications are a major factor in delaying the processing and permitting of sources. To improve the completeness of applications, many districts have revised their forms to make them easier to understand. To further clarify what information is needed, some districts have developed separate forms for common types of sources. These sources typically include gasoline dispensing facilities, fuel combustion, solvent sources, hot mix asphalt plants, abrasive blasting, and spray booths. The autobody painting permit application form for Ventura County APCD further assists applicants by providing expanded explanations combining equipment information, emission information, and rules compliance information. Districts with one or more industry-specific application forms include, but are not limited to the following: Bay Area AQMD, Feather River AQMD, Mendocino County AQMD, Monterey Bay Unified APCD, Sacramento Metropolitan AQMD, Mojave Desert AQMD, San Diego County APCD, San Joaquin Valley Unified APCD, San Luis Obispo County APCD, Santa Barbara County APCD, South Coast AQMD, and Ventura County APCD. Application forms from these and other districts have been compiled and are available from ARB.
It should be noted that Title V of the Federal Clean Air Act amendments
require districts to use standard application forms for permits to operate for
G. COMBINED AUTHORITY TO CONSTRUCT AND PERMIT TO OPERATE
1. Requirement to combine authority to construct and permit to operate
The Air Pollution Permit Streamlining Act requires affected districts to consolidate the authority to construct and the permit to operate into a single permit process, to the extent that the district determines it will not adversely affect the public health and safety or the environment. The intent is to reduce processing time and paperwork for stationary sources by requiring only one permit instead of two. Districts should not consolidate permits, however, if it reduces protection of air quality.
Health and Safety Code section 42300.1 requires districts that issue consolidated permits for construction and operation to establish postconstruction enforcement procedures adequate to ensure that sources are built and operated as specified in the permit (see Appendix C).
2. District activities to combine authority to construct and permit to
Several districts currently issue combined permits authorizing construction and operation of certain small sources. Those sources typically do not require extensive post-construction inspection or emissions testing to ensure compliance with permit conditions. Combining permits usually requires districts to modify their fee schedules for this process, since fees would no longer be collected separately for the two permits.
The San Diego County APCD issues a combined authority to construct and permit to operate for two common small sources, dry cleaners and small degreasers. For dry cleaners, the district issues a combined over-the-counter permit for equipment the district has certified. An inspection is done at the time of start-up and at two year intervals thereafter. For small degreasers, a permit is issued if the applicant verifies that the equipment will meet the district degreaser rule. The district is considering issuing combined permits for simple routine equipment, such as abrasive blasting equipment, rock drills, and tar kettles, that are found to be operating without a permit to operate. In addition to expediting permitting, the combined permit process in the San Diego County APCD is intended to reduce district fees.
The Yolo-Solano APCD and the Bay Area AQMD currently issue combined permits for soil remediation projects, which are typically of short duration. The Bay Area AQMD is also planning to issue combined permits for sources that will be able to get over-the-counter permits (see Section III.B.3), specifically sterilizers, autobody shops, solvent degreasers, gasoline dispensing facilities, and dry cleaners.
The South Coast AQMD routinely issues a single permit for equipment that does not require a source test and has minimal toxic emissions, such as charbroilers, dry cleaning equipment, small boilers, small spray booths, small degreasers, and small IC engines.
The Santa Barbara County APCD is considering developing a combined permit process for various types of minor and moderate sources where it would not have a detrimental effect on air quality. Source categories would be considered for this process if they do not need emissions testing or a rigorous inspection. Unlike other districts that issue one document that serves as both the authority to construct and permit to operate, Santa Barbara County APCD is looking into issuing an authority to construct, then when compliance has been demonstrated, putting a sticker on that document that converts it into a permit to operate. Another option under review is to issue a separate permit to operate, but not require the applicant to file a second application.
H. APPEALS PROCESS
1. Requirement for appeals process
The Streamlining Act requires affected districts to adopt an appeals process for applicants that have not received a decision on their application within the time period established for minor, moderate and major sources (see Section III.D). The appeals process would allow the applicant, after notifying the district, to request the district board to set a date by which the permit will be acted on.
2. District activities related to appeals process
Under existing rules, most districts have a provision stating that if a decision is not made on an application for an authority to construct within 180 days of being deemed complete, the application is automatically approved or, in some districts, denied. Since the three tiered expedited permitting required under section 42322(a)(3) has not yet been adopted into any district rules, districts have not developed appeals processes for failure to meet those schedules.
I. SMALL BUSINESS ASSISTANCE PROGRAM
1. Requirement for a small business assistance program
Section 42323 requires districts with 250,000 or more people to establish a small business assistance program for small business stationary sources located within the district's jurisdiction. The program must include several elements, including standard application forms and consolidated authority to construct and permit to operate, which duplicate requirements of 42322. The small business assistance program must also include: expedited variance procedures for small businesses and technical assistance for applicants on the processing of variances; a designated person or office within the district to serve as a point of initial access and accessibility to the district for small business persons; and surcharges on permit fees levied on sources regulated by the district, to be used for the establishment of a small business economic assistance program, if approved by the district board at a duly noticed public hearing.
b. District activities related to small business assistance programs
As described in Section IV.F.7, several districts, as well as the ARB, have or plan to have small business assistance programs. These programs provide assistance to small businesses in obtaining permits and in operating in compliance with district rules and regulations. These programs also meet the requirement that districts have a designated person or office within the district to serve as a point of initial access and accessibility for small business persons. District activities related to standardized application forms and consolidated authority to construct and permit to operate are discussed in Sections III.F and III.G, respectively. A joint CAPCOA/ARB effort is planned to simplify and expedite the variance procedures for small businesses. For example, this effort is expected to assist dry cleaners, which are required to meet the new control measure for perchloroethylene, with understanding and utilizing variance procedures.
OTHER STREAMLINING EFFORTS
In addition to the measures described in Chapter III on the Air Pollution Permit Streamlining Act, districts in California currently implement, or are planning to implement, a number of other measures that serve to expedite the air permitting process. The district efforts described in this chapter are organized by the type of permitting issue they address, specifically: improving the completeness of applications, expediting the completeness review, increasing the permit processing efficiency, reducing review time, reducing the number of permits processed, and improving communication with business. Other topics, such as alternative approaches to fees, rule revisions, and portable equipment, are also included.
A. ASSIST APPLICANTS IN SUBMITTING COMPLETE APPLICATIONS
Districts have identified incomplete applications for authority to construct as a major cause of delay in the permitting process. When applications do not contain all the information needed for the district's evaluation, district staff must request additional information, wait for the response, and then, once the response is sufficient, begin review. To reduce this delay in permitting, districts are using several approaches to ensure that applications are as complete as possible when they are first submitted to the district. These approaches are based on good communication with applicants.
At the CAPCOA/ARB public workshop on permit streamlining, participants recognized the need for applications to be complete when submitted. They strongly supported the use of pre-application meetings (see below) and improved application forms (see Section III.F). Workshop comments are listed in Chapter V.
1. Pre-application meetings
In small districts, district staff often meet with prospective applicants before the application for an authority to construct is filed. They explain the district's permitting process and the information needed in the application, and where appropriate, BACT and other permitting requirements. In Placer County APCD, district staff use pre-application meetings to obtain information about a facility so they can develop a facility-specific list of information needed in the application. This type of personal attention has long been the practice in small districts that process few applications. Recently, larger districts, including Monterey Bay Unified APCD, Ventura County APCD, and San Joaquin Valley Unified APCD, are also encouraging pre- application meetings with prospective applicants. The extra time involved in these meetings is more than made up in the reduced time needed to process an application that is complete when submitted.
All districts, regardless of whether they hold pre-application meetings, are willing to assist applicants in completing permit application forms. This is particularly helpful for small businesses that are not familiar with the district's permitting process.
2. Pre-application forms
A few districts provide applicants with pre-application forms to be filled out and brought to pre-application meetings. The forms used by the Ventura County APCD consist of basic questions that include location of facility, type of product(s) manufactured or services provided, and type of equipment used. An area map and site plan are also requested. This information makes it easier for district staff to help the applicant at the pre-application meeting. The Ventura County APCD's pre-application forms are contained in Appendix I.
3. Training on permit process
In addition to the training and certification of consultants described in Section III.E, several districts provide training to business on permitting or compliance. For example, the Ventura County APCD has held one-day workshops for consultants and small business on the district's permit process. Smaller districts typically don't offer formal training, but they do provide information to businesses on the permit process during pre-application meetings. The more familiar applicants are with the permit process, the more likely they are to understand what is needed in the application for the district to conduct its review.
4. Alternative means of submitting applications
All districts accept applications submitted in person or by mail. In addition, applications can be submitted to most districts by alternative methods, such as FAX, telephone, or computer modem. Eighteen districts, primarily small and medium sized districts, accept applications by FAX, and others are planning to use this approach in the future. The benefit in using FAX is to eliminate the time lost in mailing the document.
Applications can be sent by computer modem to the Kern County APCD, Imperial County APCD, Glenn County APCD and Northern Sierra AQMD. The San Joaquin Valley Unified APCD is planning to allow applications for some types of sources to be submitted on magnetic media. These methods of submittal save time by allowing the district to transfer data to the engineering evaluation or the permit without re-entering the data on the computer. As stated in Chapter V, workshop participants would like to see districts expand their use of computers for submitting applications and compliance data.
B. APPLICATIONS: ACKNOWLEDGE RECEIPT AND EXPEDITE REVIEW
As stated in Section II.A.2, once the application for an authority to construct is submitted, the district has 30 days to determine whether the application is complete. During this time, the applicant may not know who at the district to call with questions or whether there are major pieces of information missing from the applications. To help keep the applicant informed, and to minimize the delays associated with obtaining any additional information, some districts are implementing the practices described below. Participants at the CAPCOA/ARB public workshop on permit streamlining encouraged more districts to adopt these practices; see Chapter V.
1. Acknowledge receipt of applications and identify district contact
Several districts acknowledge receipt of applications before the end of the 30 day completeness review. At the Amador County APCD, for example, applications are acknowledged within one day. Several other districts notify applicants within a week or 10 days that their application has been received. Some districts that deem applications complete in significantly less than the required 30 days do not acknowledge receipt of applications, since this extra step is unnecessary and takes time away from the completeness review.
Districts that acknowledge receipt of applications also use this opportunity to provide applicants with the application number and the name of the permitting engineer who serves as the primary contact. This practice makes it easier for applicant to track the progress of applications in the permit process. If form letters are used to acknowledge receipt of applications and identify the district contact, little staff time is required for this measure.
2. Immediate screening of applications
Due to workload, district staff are not always able to begin their review of an application immediately after it is submitted. Since applications are sometimes submitted with substantial pieces of information missing, some districts have adopted a practice of quickly screening applications when they are first submitted. District staff, in some cases non-engineering staff, check to make sure that the application is filled out completely and that proper documents, such as a risk assessment, are filed with the application. This screening does not replace the districts' completeness review or the districts' ability to request further information, but it saves time by notifying applicants as soon as possible that major pieces of information are missing from their applications.
3. Applications deemed complete/incomplete in less than 30 days
A few districts are able to deem applications complete or incomplete in much less than the required 30 days. For example, Colusa County APCD and Kern County APCD generally make their completeness determinations in seven days. Shortening this first step of the process reduces the overall permitting time.
4. Standard completeness letters and information sheets on common
After reviewing an application for completeness, district staff notifies the applicant that the application is complete, or that it is incomplete and what information is missing. To reduce staff time spent preparing letters, some districts have developed standard letters that need only the applicant's name and project description added. For incomplete applications, the Ventura County APCD attaches a checklist describing information commonly missing from applications. This district is also in the process of developing information sheets on common requirements. At this time, information sheets have been prepared for emission offset requirements, health risk assessment requirements, and BACT requirements for wood products coating (see Appendix J). These efforts reduce the staff time required for individual projects, although the initial preparation of the standard materials takes time. Applicants benefit by having carefully prepared information on application requirements, and by receiving a somewhat faster permit review.
C. INCREASE PERMIT PROCESSING EFFICIENCY
After an application for an authority to construct is deemed complete, the district evaluates the proposed facility to determine whether it complies with all district rules and regulations. Depending on the type and size of the facility, this evaluation can include estimating emissions, determining BACT, conducting an air quality analysis, evaluating a health risk assessment, and finally, determining design and operation conditions that should be contained in the permit. Each step of the evaluation takes time and contributes to the overall length of the permitting process.
Many districts have developed standard approaches for each step of the evaluation, particularly for common types of sources. For example, districts have developed standard evaluation policies, BACT, and permit conditions. In some cases, computers are used to expedite these standard approaches even further. In addition to expediting the process, these measures ensure more accurate and uniform evaluation by technical staff.
1. Standard policies and procedures
Most districts have developed standard policies and procedures for district staff to follow when preparing engineering evaluations. Some districts have put these policies and procedures in documents that are available not only to district staff, but also to applicants. The Bay Area AQMD and South Coast AQMD have published permit processing handbooks describing the procedures for evaluating applications for authority to construct and permit to operate for common types of equipment. These handbooks include information describing the permitting process, application contents and completeness, regulations, abatement equipment, emission standards, permit conditions, enforcement procedures and fees for selected source categories. Source categories contained in the handbooks include dry cleaning, storage tanks, boilers, gasoline dispensing facilities, and other sources listed in Appendix K. Other districts, including San Joaquin Valley Unified AQMD, are planning to develop permit processing handbooks.
In addition to the information that has been developed by local
districts, the ARB Compliance Division has published criteria for assessing
district enforcement and permitting programs (see Appendix L for general
permitting criteria). These criteria can also be useful to districts in
evaluating ways to streamline their permitting process.
At the CAPCOA/ARB public workshop on permit streamlining, participants
commented that the development of standard policies, procedures, and emission
factors that are available to the regulated community should be a high
priority. See Chapter V.
2. BACT tracking activities
As part of stationary source permitting programs, many districts are required to determine control technology requirements. New Source Review rules in particular require California districts to determine BACT and lowest achievable emission rate (LAER). In most cases, these requirements only differ by name, since most districts use a BACT definition that is almost identical to the federal definition for LAER. Usually, district rules require that sources subject to BACT or LAER requirements apply the most stringent control technology achieved in practice. These control technology decisions are discretionary and can require a significant effort to make. Much of this effort is dedicated to investigating the performance of various technologies used to control emissions from similar units in the same source category of the proposed permit unit.
Some districts reduce resource requirements for conducting BACT determinations through standardization of procedures and requirements. If BACT determinations are made available to the public, they also serve to inform prospective applicants in advance of filing an application, what controls are likely to be required on their projects. Knowing what controls may be required could be useful in deciding whether to go forward with a project. It would also allow applicants to include a description of those proposed controls in their application.
The South Coast AQMD and Bay Area AQMD have formal BACT guidelines which provide standard procedures for conducting determinations. Source categories have been predefined, and procedures of evaluation and cost effectiveness calculations are presented in a district guideline document. The procedures not only require consideration of controls deemed to be achieved in practice, but also the consideration of alternative basic equipment and alternative fuels. In addition, consideration must also be given to identify potentially feasible controls that are more stringent than controls currently achieved in practice.
The Bay Area AQMD BACT handbook is currently a working draft. The district has met with industry groups to consider their recommendations. The handbook is expected to be finalized in the near future and then updated annually.
The Ventura County APCD and San Joaquin Valley Unified APCD maintain BACT manuals which are compilations of their most recent BACT requirements for various source categories. These are dynamic manuals that change to reflect current BACT requirements.
At a broader level, CAPCOA has a statewide clearinghouse for district determinations. Determinations are sent in from districts on a voluntary basis and compiled into an electronic database. This information is sent back to the districts in quarterly summaries and periodically published in a compilation document. When needed, the most recent information can be requested by telephone.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency also has a RACT/BACT/LAER clearinghouse that compiles information sent in from states. Information from this clearinghouse can be accessed from its electronic database via modem.
3. Standard permit conditions
Most districts have standard permit conditions they use for common types of sources. In some districts this is achieved by using applicable conditions from similar permits. The Santa Barbara County APCD, San Joaquin Valley Unified APCD, San Diego County APCD, Bay Area AQMD, Ventura County APCD, and South Coast AQMD have compiled standard permit conditions, typically on computer. Types of sources for which standard permit conditions have been compiled include: IC engines, boilers, scrubbers, gasoline dispensing, coating operations, incinerators/after-burners, and degreasers. Standard permit conditions can be obtained from districts or, in some cases, from ARB.
Standard permit conditions expedite permitting by reducing the time district staff spends writing permits. Instead of creating new conditions for each permit, staff need only check to see what additional conditions or modifications to standard conditions may be necessary. When standard permit conditions are made available to prospective applicants, they know in advance of filing an application what conditions they must meet.
4. Specialized staff for various source categories
District permitting staff generally specialize to allow individuals to become more knowledgeable on certain types of equipment, which results in more consistent and expedited permitting. In small districts, this may mean that one individual handles small sources and another handles the more complex projects. In larger districts, staff are often specialized by the type of equipment or the type of industry. For example, the Monterey Bay Unified APCD, Bay Area AQMD, San Joaquin Valley Unified APCD, and Ventura County APCD have staff that are experts in permitting specific kinds of sources.
The South Coast AQMD has reorganized into industry teams, with all permitting, enforcement, and rules staff for a given industry working together on the same team. A permit application for a complex facility is handled entirely by the industry team, in comparison to the previous practice of having different sections at the district process different equipment from one facility. This industry approach was developed to alleviate communication problems that can happen in a district of this size. 5. Use of computers to expedite the permit process
a. Benefits of using computers
The use of personal computers has made it possible to automate many district activities, including permit processing. Districts use computers to implement many of the streamlining measures described in this document, including: standard permit conditions (Section IV.C.3), quick permitting of precertified equipment (Section III.B), quick permitting of minor and moderate sources (Section III.D), standard policies and procedures (IV.C.1), tracking permitting status and project emissions (IV.C.6), form letters for receipt of applications and application completeness (IV.B.1 and IV.B.4), and BACT tracking (IV.C.2).
In the past, all districts handled and processed permits manually. Many districts continue to do so, but as regulatory thresholds are lowered and more sources require permits in larger districts, automation has become an effective tool for expediting and streamlining the air permit process. It should be noted, however, that it may not be appropriate for districts to use computers to assist in all aspects of permitting described in this document. Districts should evaluate the specific procedures that will produce the greatest benefit for the least cost.
The best candidates for automated permit processing would be the most numerous and the simplest sources permitted by the district. For example, districts that permit small sources, such as dry cleaners, spray booths, and gas stations may be good candidates for automation. For these types of small sources that have simple types of controls and standard permit conditions, a simple template or form can be developed. Technicians can quickly fill out the forms and the permit can be processed efficiently through a computer system. This approach streamlines the process by freeing up the more technical staff to work on more difficult project permits. Some districts have also placed their permit applications on office automation systems. This allows permit engineers or technicians to concentrate on reviewing the application instead of having to key in the data.
At the CAPCOA/ARB public workshop on permit streamlining, participants put high priority on districts expanding the use of computer-based technology for processing permits, receiving data from applicants, and communicating with the regulated community. See Chapter V for additional workshop comments.
b. District computer programs
The following is a summary of how some districts have incorporated automation into their permit processes. These are examples which other districts can examine to determine whether these approaches might work well for them.
The South Coast AQMD has developed a computer assisted permit processing system (CAPPS) which is linked to the district's mainframe computer. This program is used by the district's permit engineers to process applications for permits to construct and operate, particularly applications for small and medium sources that are permitted under an expedited schedule (see Section III.D). The CAPPS reduces the number of applications processed manually and provides automatic calculations and computer-generated forms and reports. The CAPPS is menu driven and user friendly and "walks" the permit engineer through the permit process.
The Yolo-Solano AQMD uses a personal computer system to expedite their permit evaluation. Information requested on the district's 41 source-specific application forms is evaluated using a computer program that has district rules, emission rates, calculations, and permit conditions. By pre- programming the computer to do the permit evaluation and print the permit, there is a 75% saving on staff time required.
The Bay Area AQMD is developing an automated permitting program so that a
technician can process a permit in 30 minutes. This program is being designed
for commonly used sources that have standard controls and permit conditions,
such as sterilizers, autobody shops, solvent degreasers, gasoline dispensing
facilities, and dry cleaners.
The Ventura County APCD has developed new computerized programs to assist in issuing operating permits for gas stations and dry cleaning facilities. The district hopes to expand these programs so the authority to construct can be converted easily to a permit to operate. The Ventura County APCD also has a computer program that asks permit engineers a series of questions in order to properly categorize a permit application in terms of BACT, emission offsets, toxic new source review, notification requirements, and other requirements.
The San Joaquin Valley Unified APCD has developed a database for logging, tracking, processing, and issuing all authorities to construct and permits to operate. However, these permits are handled separately and engineering evaluations are performed on word processing software. The district's system enhances the permit process for district permit engineers, which in turn, can improve consistency and reduce potential delays for project applicants. The district's system allows its permit engineers to access permit forms and records via the district's computer network and to issue annual billings. An important component of this system is that the district's permit engineers can call up general permit conditions for a variety of source categories (e.g., asphalt batch plant) by specified numbers. The specified numbers for the general permit conditions enables the district to save memory space. Also, the district uses its database system for tracking increases in permitted emissions. The district plans to enhance the system in the future to track and process emission reduction credits.
San Diego County APCD is working on a computer assisted program that will reduce duplicate data entry using a relational data base, provide standard rule evaluation based on source type, provide standard permit conditions based on the source type, perform the emission calculations using source specific data, perform fee calculations, and print a draft authority to construct. The project engineer would review the input data and the resulting rule analysis, emission calculations, fees, and permit conditions. The program will be used initially to permit simpler sources such as dry cleaners, abrasive blasting equipment, and degreasers. The system is being developed on mini-mainframe computer with implementation beginning in fall of 1993.
6. Tracking systems
Districts have instituted tracking systems, typically using computer, to monitor permitting activity and emissions inventory. In districts that process large numbers of applications, it can be difficult to keep track of where each application is in the permitting process and which staff person is responsible. Many districts use a tracking system to keep track of the date applications are received, name of the permitting engineer or other contact at the district, date the letter of completeness or letter of incompleteness is issued, date the draft permit is issued, and date the final permit is issued. In some districts, the tracking system is as simple as a logbook; in larger districts computerized tracking systems are used. Benefits of application tracking systems include: 1) responding more quickly to applicant questions on application status; and 2) allowing the district to evaluate how well timelines are met and where problems occur in the permitting process.
Districts are further helping applicants to follow the progress of their applications in the permit process by providing applicants with their application number and with the name of the permitting engineer (see Section IV.B.1). At the Cal/EPA public workshop, participants stated that the ability to track their applications was critical. Workshop comments are listed in Chapter V.
Previous legislation (Health and Safety Code section 40709.5) required that districts develop and implement a system that identifies and tracks sources possessing emission credit balances and allows periodic analysis of increases or decreases in emissions from new or modified sources. These tracking systems are being used to verify that the district permit programs are achieving the goals specified by state law.
7. Streamlining Toxics Screening
The requirement to conduct a health risk assessment can sometimes slow the issuance of air permits. To avoid unnecessary delays, the Monterey Bay Unified APCD has developed a method to screen projects that do not pose unacceptable risk and therefore do not need a comprehensive health risk assessment. The method is currently specific to contaminated soil and water aeration projects. Using project-specific analysis of the soil, estimated soil volume, and the distance from the source to the property line, the district is able to use previously run dispersion models to determine if the project would result in a risk below ten in one million. If so, the permit for the soil aeration project can be issued on an expedited basis.
8. Evaluation of unpermitted sources by inspectors
While inspecting existing sources, district staff occasionally discover unpermitted sources. In addition to being subject to fines, these sources are required to file for the necessary permits and undergo district inspection before receiving a permit to operate. To expedite permitting of currently operating unpermitted sources in San Diego County, the district inspector provides the business with the necessary application forms at the time the unpermitted source is discovered. In addition, the district does not require a second inspection, but relies on the original inspection that discovered the source.
D. INCREASE EFFICIENCY OF DISTRICT CEQA REVIEW
As stated in Section II.A.3, before the district can issue a decision on an application for a project which may have a significant effect on the environment, the project must comply with CEQA. Since the district is often not the lead agency, it has limited ability to expedite the entire CEQA process. There are a few district efforts described in this section which streamline the CEQA process as it affects the district.
1. Designated CEQA staff
Many districts have designated staff conduct evaluations required under
CEQA. At the Bay Area AQMD, for example, CEQA is handled by the planning
division, rather than by permitting staff. This allows planning staff to be
knowledgeable on CEQA and permitting staff to focus on permitting issues.
2. Ministerial CEQA permit process for designated sources
Several districts consider permit decisions for certain types of facilities to be ministerial, and therefore exempt from CEQA. The Bay Area AQMD's regulations specifically exempt from the CEQA process permit applications that the district defines as ministerial. Under the Bay Area AQMD's regulations, the ministerial exemption is limited to permit applications for projects that: 1) have no significant environmental impacts for all environmental media; 2) comply with district, state, and federal air quality rules, regulations, and laws; and 3) are not unique so district staff can evaluate them through the district's manual of procedures. Complete description of criteria for ministerial exemption is contained in Bay Area AQMD regulations 2-1-311, 2-1-427, and 2-1-428. The district and project applicants both benefit from this approach by eliminating the time and costs incurred in complying with the CEQA requirements.
E. REDUCE THE NUMBER OF PERMITS PROCESSED
Some districts process large numbers of permit applications for new and modified sources. To streamline the permitting process, districts are considering or implementing ways of reducing the number of applications that must be processed, without compromising air quality. In addition to the measures described below, several districts are consolidating the authority to construct and permit to operate for some sources (see Section III.G).
1. Modify permit exemption list
In 1990, the CAPCOA NSR Task Force developed recommendations for source categories that could be exempt from district permitting requirements (see Appendix M). Many districts have incorporated in their rules some or all of the recommendations. Recently, districts have indicated an interest in expanding the CAPCOA permit exemption list to include more sources that have low levels of emissions. The intent would be to reduce the number of small sources requiring permits, thereby allowing districts to focus their resources on sources with larger levels of emissions. Depending on how districts use a revised exemption list, it may also provide some level of consistency between districts in how they handle very small sources. 2. Registration of small sources
As an alternative to exempting sources with very low emissions, a few districts, including Santa Barbara County APCD and San Diego County APCD, are exploring the idea of registration programs for off-the-shelf equipment. The business would still have to fill out forms and likely pay a fee, but the process would be much faster than if the source required a permit. Although this would take more district resources than completely exempting these sources, it would provide an opportunity for tracking emissions.
3. Portable Equipment
Prior to operating equipment that may emit air pollutants, applicants must obtain permits from the local districts. For equipment that is moved from district to district, permits currently must be obtained from each district where the portable source might operate. To reduce this burden on businesses that own portable equipment, efforts are underway to develop a statewide program where portable equipment would require only one air permit. Establishing a statewide program for portable equipment would also increase the district's efficiency in processing permits by reducing the number of permits processed.
San Joaquin Unified APCD has taken the lead to develop proposed regulations for a program to streamline the permitting of portable equipment. Several workshops have been held to receive public comment on the proposed regulation. Any comments received will be considered in the development of the final draft regulation that will be presented to the CAPCOA Board of Directors. Once approved by the CAPCOA Board, individual districts will adopt the regulation.
Under the proposed regulations, district participation in the portable equipment program would be voluntary. Equipment eligible for the program would be limited to certain types of equipment that emit less than 10 tons per year. Applicants would need to obtain permits from only one district, the district where the owner/operator's headquarters are located. New equipment would be required to employ BACT and existing equipment would employ best available retrofit control equipment. The district would provide any necessary mitigation.
4. Five year term for operating permits
Renewal of operating permits, while not requiring the same resources as reviewing an application for an authority to construct, contributes to the overall workload at the districts. To reduce that effort and the associated paperwork, the San Joaquin Valley Unified APCD has changed the renewal of operating permits from annual to every five years. The district still does annual inspections and, if necessary, modifies the permit, and fees are still charged annually. The benefit is reduced paperwork without affecting compliance. Five year terms for operating permits are consistent with Title V requirements in the federal Clean Air Act Amendments (see Section II.A.5).
It should be noted that regardless of the frequency of renewing permits, districts must still conduct annual permit review in accordance with Health and Safety Code section 42301(c). This section of the code requires annual review to determine that permit conditions are adequate to ensure compliance with, and the enforceability of, district rules and regulations applicable to the equipment. If the conditions are not consistent, the permit must be revised to specify the permit conditions in accordance with all applicable rules and regulations (see Appendix C).
F. IMPROVE COMMUNICATION WITH THE REGULATED COMMUNITY
Many of the previously described changes that districts are making to improve and expedite the permitting process involve better communication with the regulated community. For example, pre-application meetings (Section IV.A.1), training businesses on the permit process (Section IV.A.3), acknowledging receipt of applications and identifying a single district contact (Section IV.B.1) help to improve communication between districts and the regulated community. Other district efforts described in this section include using brochures and working with economic development corporations to help businesses understand district rules and regulations, and the air permit process. Districts are also soliciting suggestions from businesses on improving the permit process and other districts programs.
Improved communication was stressed as a top priority by participants at the CAPCOA/ARB public workshop on permit streamlining. Specific recommendations included: more interactive workshops, pre-workshop meetings with affected industry, computer bulletin board, and E-mail. In addition, workshop participants urged districts to adopt a non-adversarial, "customer- service" attitude. See Chapter V for additional workshop comments.
1. Brochures and other permit assistance materials
All districts provide businesses with permit assistance materials on request. Some districts have developed brochures as an easy way of informing applicants of the need for air permits and how the permit process works. In addition to a description of the main points of a district's permit process, permit brochures typically contain sections that discuss the following: reasons why permits are required, who is required to obtain a permit, what are the different types of permits that may be required, and where to go or who to contact if more information is needed. The Santa Barbara, Ventura, San Joaquin Valley Unified, and Monterey Bay Unified Air Pollution Control Districts are among the districts that have developed brochures that address the permit process. For examples of these and other brochures please refer to Appendix N.
In addition to brochures on the permitting process, most districts have, or are developing, materials on enforcement, emissions testing, or district policies. Districts also distribute compliance assistance publications prepared by the ARB Compliance Division (see Appendix N for a list of available publications). In addition, districts issue advisories to industry on important topics. While these materials may not necessarily expedite the issuance of permit decisions, they assist businesses in complying with air quality rules and regulations, and improve overall relationships between the districts and businesses.
2. Work with Economic Development Corporations in explaining air
Some districts are providing permit assistance and informational packages to businesses through local economic development corporations. Economic development corporations throughout the state assist businesses in obtaining loans. However, in San Diego County and San Joaquin Valley, the corporations are additionally acting as the middleman for the districts to provide permit assistance to businesses. The San Joaquin Valley Unified APCD staff meet with businesses to discuss the permit process, information needed on applications, regulations, and cost effective means of complying with district rules and regulations. The districts have found that helping businesses through the economic development corporation has worked well, and often results in applications being more complete when first submitted.
The South Coast AQMD works with the existing California Business Environmental Assistance Center (BEAC) in southern California to inform businesses of the need for air permits, and to provide information on the air permitting process. Districts will also coordinate with a second BEAC that is planned for northern California.
3. Client feedback through questionnaires
Questionnaires are used by several districts to obtain applicant feedback on the permit process and on district compliance inspections. Their use can achieve two purposes. First, they can provide districts with information that may be used to improve the permit process or the inspection process. Second, they can improve communication between the district and businesses. Questionnaires usually ask a variety of questions such as: were the rules and permits understandable, was the engineering staff helpful in providing assistance, and were all the applicant's questions answered fully. On the questionnaire, space is also provided for the respondent to make comments or suggestions. Examples of permit processing surveys (questionnaires) can be found in Appendix O.
4. Industry recommendations for improving the permitting process
CAPCOA has an ongoing program to improve communication with business. In addition to the CAPCOA/ARB workshop on permit streamlining described in Chapter V, other workshops have been held to share information and solicit input from the regulated community on air quality issues, such as permitting of portable equipment and compliance with Title V requirements. CAPCOA also meets monthly with industry representatives to discuss permitting issues, proposed legislation, and other air quality issues.
Several districts have solicited industry recommendations for improving the permit process. The Ventura County APCD held a workshop in 1992 with permit holders to obtain their input on permit streamlining. As a result, the district has instituted several streamlining measures described in this document. Last year, San Diego County APCD initiated an effort to improve its overall program, emphasizing input and participation from business. The district began by sending survey forms to all affected businesses and by meeting with business groups and associations. In addition, a workshop was held to solicit comments on where improvements could be made. As a result of these initial efforts, a working group of district and local industry representatives was formed to review the permit issuance program in detail and evaluate ways it could be improved. The working group has held a number of meetings and developed a specific process for both businesses and the district to follow that will expedite the permitting process.
5. Hot line
When businesses have questions on air permitting or compliance issues, they want to be able to call someone at the district who can help them. In small districts with few staff, calls can be quickly directed to the right individual. In large districts this can be more of a problem, so several districts have established hot lines. Some of the hot lines were originally established to handle compliance questions. However, they can also be used to help with answering permitting questions. The Bay Area AQMD, Kern County APCD, Lake County AQMD, Mojave Desert AQMD, Placer County APCD, South Coast AQMD, and Ventura County APCD currently have hot lines.
6. Multilingual Staff
Many districts currently have multilingual staff who are available to assist businesses in understanding permitting and compliance requirements.
7. Small Business Assistance Programs
Several of the streamlining measures described in this document, including pre-application meetings (Section IV.A.1), training on permit process (Section IV.A.3), and brochures and other permit assistance materials (IV.F.1), assist small businesses in obtaining permits or in complying with district rules and regulations. In addition to these measures, several districts have established or are planning to establish small business assistance programs. For example, the Sacramento Metropolitan AQMD is establishing, in cooperation with other county agencies, a Small Business Assistance Center. Assistance offered by the Center will include help in filling out permit applications, workshops on self-inspections for regulatory compliance and pollution prevention, and industry-specific manuals with easy- to-understand information on all environmental regulations that apply to that industry in the county. Other districts that have or plan to have small business assistance programs include the Bay Area AQMD, San Diego County APCD, San Joaquin Valley Unified APCD, and South Coast AQMD.
In addition, all districts with populations in excess of 250,000 are required by the Air Pollution Permit Streamlining Act to develop small business assistance programs. The program must contain specific elements including expedited variance procedures for small businesses, a designated person or office at the district to serve as initial contact for small businesses, and after district board approval, a small business economic assistance program. See Appendix C for details.
The ARB is currently developing a small business assistance program in compliance with the federal Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990. The Clean Air Act Amendments require each state to develop a program to assist small businesses that must obtain federal operating permits required by Title V of the Amendments. The state program mandated under the Clean Air Act Amendments must include three elements: 1) a state Small Business Ombudsperson; 2) a Compliance Advisory Panel; and 3) an outreach mechanism to provide technical assistance and to distribute compliance information to small businesses. The program being developed by the ARB goes beyond the federal mandate by providing assistance to all businesses operating or wishing to operate in California. Based on information provided by the business community, there is a need for general information pamphlets especially geared for the small business, regulatory assistance manuals written in layperson terms, and a helpline that would provide assistance or referrals on environmental questions. The ARB has been coordinating the development of this program with the districts, other state agencies, chambers of commerce, small business development centers, trade associations, and businesses. For more information, see Appendix P.
G. COORDINATE WITH OTHER AGENCIES
Local air districts are responsible for permitting facilities and ensuring compliance with air quality rules and regulations. Other local, state, and federal agencies can have other permitting and compliance responsibilities at the same facilities. The number of agencies that can be involved at any particular facility can potentially lead to overlapping or conflicting operating requirements and facilities may be subject to inspections by several agencies.
To reduce duplication or conflict in permitting and inspections, districts coordinate with other agencies, particularly other local agencies. This can reduce district workload in some cases, but more importantly, it minimizes the burden on businesses.
At the CAPCOA/ARB public workshop on permit streamlining, comments were made on ways districts could coordinate with other agencies, for example by developing multimedia application and compliance forms; see Chapter V.
1. Coordinate with city/county agencies issuing building permits
Most districts are working with city and county building and planning departments to ensure that businesses are aware that they may need air permits. Government Code section 65850.2 states that building departments can not issue the final permit of occupancy until air permits have been obtained, if needed. Therefore, it is to the advantage of both the building departments and the districts to work together in informing applicants of the possible need for an air permit.
The Monterey Bay Unified APCD has encouraged cities and counties to
include language in their building permit application forms asking applicants
whether an air permit is required (see Appendix Q). The district's telephone
number and a list of typically exempt sources are included.
The Yolo-Solano APCD has asked city building departments to provide building applicants with an air pollution survey (see Appendix Q). The survey is filled out by the applicant and sent to the district together with the building permit application. The district uses this information to determine if an air permit may be required. The Bay Area AQMD works with the building, planning and fire departments to ensure that applicants know when they may need an air permit. The district has developed postcards that are filled out by the departments and the applicants, and sent to the district (see Appendix Q). If the district determines an air permit is required, the applicant is notified. The district also provides a fact sheet on the types of sources that need permits and a brochure about the district (see Appendix N).
2. Coordinate facility inspections with other agencies
Many districts coordinate, or plan to coordinate, facility inspections with other agencies. Most common is the coordination of inspections of gasoline dispensing stations with county staff responsible for checking weights and measures.
3. Coordination on contaminated soil cleanup
Cleanup of contaminated soil involves air districts as well as local health departments and other agencies. Districts typically coordinate with the other agencies in these efforts. For example, the Great Basin Unified APCD coordinates with the local health department on soil remediation projects to ensure that permit conditions are compatible. The South Coast AQMD coordinates with the health department on cleanup of superfund hazardous waste sites.
4. Coordination on underground tanks
The Sacramento Metropolitan AQMD coordinates with the county hazardous
materials staff and city and county fire departments on applications for, and inspection of, underground tanks at gasoline stations. They have developed a consolidated application for installing and operating vapor recovery systems and underground storage tanks for hazardous substances. The district also coordinates inspections with these agencies.
5. Coordinate with California Energy Commission
All districts coordinate with the California Energy Commission in the permitting of energy facilities of 50 megawatts or more capacity.
6. Coordination on PM10 Issues
The Great Basin Unified APCD has coordinated with the U.S. Soil Conservation Service and CalTrans on reducing fugitive dust problems in the district. The Great Basin Unified APCD has also worked with the town of Mammoth Lakes in developing and implementing a PM10 State Implementation Plan for woodsmoke and road dust. The district issues permits for development that has associated indirect emissions. The town issues permits for woodstoves, which reduces the workload at the district. The Northern Sonoma County APCD coordinates with the building departments to ensure that approved woodstoves are used in new construction.
7. Other Coordination
Districts are also coordinating with other agencies to avoid duplicative requests. For example, the San Diego County APCD is working with the County Health Department and Department of Agriculture to explore areas of coordination in permitting and inspecting businesses.
Some districts coordinate efforts with industry for improving air quality or assisting business through the permitting process. The Ventura County APCD works with Southern California Edison and Southern California Gas by "advertising" the permit assistance programs offered by these utilities to interested permit applicants.
H. OTHER EFFORTS TO IMPROVE AIR PROGRAMS
There are other changes that districts have made, or are planning to make, so permitting and compliance requirements are easier for business, without compromising air quality. These changes are being made to recordkeeping and reporting requirements and fee payment methods; in addition, loan guarantee programs are assisting businesses in complying with environmental regulations.
1. Streamlining recordkeeping and reporting requirements
In response to industry requests, some districts are working to streamline their recordkeeping and reporting requirements, particularly for volatile organic compounds. The San Diego County APCD is working with EPA and ARB to revise the daily recordkeeping requirement for storage of materials containing volatile organic compounds. The district is also providing sample recordkeeping forms to businesses to promote consistency and to ensure records are properly kept.
The Santa Barbara County APCD has developed a proposal for streamlining recordkeeping requirements; see Appendix S. The proposal includes a number of elements including:
- surveying records to identify little-used data,
- defining recordkeeping requirements for small, medium and large
- sources and eliminating recordkeeping for very small sources,
- adopting a single recordkeeping rule and revising other rules to
- eliminate unnecessary recordkeeping,
- exploring simplifying approaches,
- making recordkeeping requirements consistent regardless of permit issue date,
- exploring setting emission limits only at regulatory significance levels, and
- exploring control and recordkeeping at the point of sale or distribution.
The South Coast AQMD's program to streamline recordkeeping and reporting
for volatile organic compounds is described in Appendix R. As a first step to
revising the requirements, the district conducted a pilot project for small
and medium sized businesses. The result is a program that allows facilities
to record and report emissions based on usage of broad categories of materials
containing volatile organic compounds, such as solvents, coatings, and
adhesives. The gallon usage is then multiplied by corresponding incremental
emission factors. Alternative approaches for reporting emissions were also
evaluated. Streamlined recordkeeping and reporting requirements have been
incorporated into the draft rules proposed for the Region Clean Air Market
(RECLAIM). In addition, small non-RECLAIM sources may elect to use the
streamlined recordkeeping alternatives.
Comments were made at the CAPCOA/ARB public workshop on permit streamlining that simplified recordkeeping should be a high priority. See Chapter V for specific comments.
2. Alternative approaches to fees
To assist businesses in paying permitting fees, some districts have established, or are considering, small business discounts or payment with credit cards.
a. Small business permit fee discount
Small businesses are charged reduced permit fees in Glenn County APCD, Tuolumne County APCD, Bay Area AQMD, Lake County APCD, and South Coast AQMD. A discount of 50 percent is typically given. The San Diego County APCD allows small businesses to pay fees over time. Reduced fees do not expedite permitting, but they do encourage small businesses in those districts.
b. Accept credit cards as payment for permit fees
The Bay Area AQMD began accepting permit fee payments by credit card in September 1993, and Kern County APCD is considering a similar program. Allowing payment by credit card is expected to help medium and large businesses that otherwise may take a long time to issue a check. Since permits are not issued until fees are paid, this would expedite permitting. Some businesses may also benefit from the extended payment time of credit card bills.
3. Loan guarantee programs
The state has instituted the California Loans for Environmental Assistance Now (CLEAN) program for small businesses. Under CLEAN, eligible small businesses may apply for loans to assist them in complying with environmental laws and regulations. Loan activities are conducted by the California Office of Small Business with the California Pollution Control Financing Authority making determinations on loan approvals. Loans may be a minimum of $10,000 or a maximum of $750,000 per project per borrower and may be used to finance design, installation, and implementation of an emission control process. CLEAN was begun as a pilot program in the South Coast AQMD and it has now been implemented throughout the state.
The Bay Area AQMD is working with the state Trade and Commerce Agency to assist them in marketing their small business loan program, which offers loans for environmental regulatory compliance. The district will help inform businesses that the program is available. In addition, small business economic assistance programs are being developed in Sacramento Metropolitan AQMD, Mojave Desert AQMD, Santa Barbara County APCD, and the Bay Area AQMD.
COMMENTS FROM CAPCOA/ARB PUBLIC WORKSHOP ON PERMIT STREAMLINING
This chapter contains comments made at the CAPCOA/ARB public workshop on
A. PURPOSE AND FORMAT OF THE WORKSHOP
On October 28, 1993, the CAPCOA and ARB jointly sponsored a public workshop to discuss the various permit streamlining measures described in this document and to obtain input from the regulated community on what additional measures districts should implement and what priorities should be placed on the different streamlining measures. Industry representatives assisted in planning and conducting the workshop.
To provide a framework for discussions, presentations were made by district and ARB staff on the following major streamlining elements: improved communication with business, expedited permitting, assistance in submitting applications and tracking progress, permitting manuals and streamlined recordkeeping and reporting. In the afternoon, industry representatives facilitated break-out sessions which stimulated constructive discussions.
B. COMMENTS ON IMPROVING THE AIR PERMITTING PROCESS
The following is a compilation of the workshop comments on how districts could improve their permitting process, with a double asterisk (**) indicating the suggested improvements that were voted by the participants as being highest priority for implementation.
1. Improved Communication with Business
a. Work with economic development corporations
-There was support for California Environmental Protection Agency one- stop permit centers and Business Environmental Assistance Centers (BEACs).
-The roles of districts, ARB, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency should be defined.
-Economic development corporations (EDCs) need to be educated on air quality issues, not just sent air permit application forms and expected to be able to help business.
-Bridges should be built between industry, districts and EDCs.
-EDCs should be a catalyst in developing partnerships.
b. Brochures and permit assistance materials
**There was support for brochures that explained the permitting process
and other district programs.
-Districts and industry should develop brochures in partnership.
-Model permit applications with standard conditions should be developed
-Brochures should be industry specific.
c. Workshops and questionnaires
**Workshops should use a break-out format like this workshop.
-Districts should hold permit streamlining workshops.
-More compliance workshops and educational workshops by source category
would be helpful.
-The "we versus they" attitude should be avoided at workshops.
-District management should be at workshops so they can respond to
comments, but industry should not expect immediate decisions on all
-Effort should be made to increase attendance at workshops; trade
associations and affected industries should be involved early in the
rule development process.
-Make sure workshop notices, etc. are sent to all affected parties,
including city, county and other permit holders, not just the most
d. Small business assistance programs
-Small business assistance programs need to be better publicized.
-These programs should identify other resources and industry support
contacts, such as trade associations and chambers of commerce.
-Business assistance programs should avoid taking business away from
consultants; districts shouldn't increase in size just to support
e. General comments on improved communication
**Regulatory agencies need to improve communication, adopt a "customer
service" attitude, a non-adversarial approach.
**Participants would like districts to have E-mail.
**District regulations, permit handbook, application forms, BACT, and EPA
federally enforceable rules (for Title V) should be on computerized
bulletin board (RWQCB has such a system).
**Districts should hold pre-meetings to get input on rule implementation
-Districts and ARB should refer to "regulated community", not "business"
since city, county and other non-business entities are regulated.
-Districts should discuss up front exactly what is needed for permits
and why, to allow for negotiation between district and applicant.
-Mail should be delivered to the permitting staff more quickly. Checks
for permit fees should not be delayed in accounting.
-Phone calls to public information offices should be returned more
-Good communication is a two way street; industry should talk with
districts before making financial decisions.
-Trade associations should develop unified positions on proposed rules.
2. Expedited Permitting
a. Tiered permitting for small, medium, and large sources
**There was support for the tiered permitting concept.
-Some participants felt expedited permitting should be based on complexity of project, not emission rates.
-There was concern that too many quick-review applications may be filed at once, and districts won't be able to meet the quick timelines.
-Districts with less staff than South Coast can't permit sources in 7 days.
-Expedited permitting begins when an application is complete; businesses need to be educated on how to submit complete applications.
-Applications that contain unnecessary information slow the district's review.
b. Over-the-counter permitting
-Over-the-counter permitting is only possible for large districts.
c. Use of computers
**There should be greater use of computers.
-Computers should be used by districts for processing permits and by sources for submitting information to districts.
-Computer programs should be designed to avoid re-entry of data.
-Widely used uniform software and simple codes should be employed so anyone can use it.
-Districts should start with something simple, and not wait to develop a complex system.
-Personal computers are sufficient for small and medium districts.
-Instructions on how to complete an application should be on disk.
-ARB and districts should use "real programmers" not permitting staff.
-Spreadsheets used to expedite permitting should be developed for more types of equipment.
d. Expedited permitting
**There was support for the idea of paying increased fees to have expedited evaluation of certain permit applications if it would not slow processing of other applications; a very large premium was suggested to avoid all applications from being expedited in this way.
-Companies should prioritize their applications if they have several applications being processed by a district at one time. -Political pressure on districts for expediting specific permits should be avoided.
**The list of precertified equipment should be expanded.
**Pre-certification should be a statewide program, uniform from one
district to the next district; if one district pre-certifies equipment, all districts should accept it. (Only large districts have the manpower to pre-certify equipment.)
**Districts should focus permit conditions on emissions limitations; applications should ask only for information necessary to establish those emissions limitations.
-Pre-certification should be equipment specific, not specific to
-Industry and suppliers should be included in the process.
-ARB should work more with industry and not do independent research on
f. Other comments on expedited permitting
-Districts should have programs to certify private permit engineers, like South Coast AQMD's program. Certified engineers would not only fill out application forms, but also do the engineering evaluation, so the district would only have to check the certified engineer's work before issuing the permit.
-There should be more sharing of information among districts and with the regulated community.
-Keep it simple.
-Equipment information and emissions data should be organized so it can be used easily by the district and other permit applicants.
-Previous permits should be used as prototypes (case base approach in South Coast AQMD).
-There should be more specific exemptions, like at South Coast AQMD.
-Applicants are willing to educate permit engineers about their industry.
-Districts need to assign someone to study permitting to simplify, avoid duplication, and reduce the level of detail required. They should get outside help in this study.
3. Assistance in Submitting Applications and Tracking Progress
a. Standardized application forms
**Statewide standardized forms should be developed; forms should be developed for specific types of equipment.
**Districts should ask only for information necessary to control emissions.
-Multiagency forms would reduce the number of times applicants have to fill out general project information.
-Smaller districts should take advantage of forms, etc. developed by large districts.
-Standard application forms are of value to large operations with frequent permit needs, not to sources who come in for a permit only once.
-Criteria list of what is necessary for a complete application needs to be made more specific.
b. Pre-application meetings
**Pre-application meetings are beneficial, more should be held.
-Pre-application meetings can be held over the phone.
-There should also be post-application meetings.
-Districts should have permit engineers available to handle walk-ins.
-Applicants should pay attention to what districts/regulatory agencies want or hire experienced consultants.
c. Application tracking
**The ability to track applications is critical to business.
-There was a lot of support for Ventura County APCD's program of giving applicants the application number and the name of the permitting engineer, of acknowledging receipt of applications, and screening applications for completeness.
-There should be a method for tracking delinquent applications.
d. Other comments on applications and tracking
**Districts should send out only one set of information requests. They should simplify the information needed and avoid 11th hour requests for more information.
-It would be helpful to have flowcharts for applications/permits and explanations of how applicants can avoid common problems.
-District staff needs to be more responsive; they are often too busy with other projects to respond to applicant questions.
-Districts should have a designated person to call small businesses that file incomplete applications to help them complete their applications.
-Some participants were concerned that applications are deemed complete when it is convenient for the district, not when they are actually complete.
-There should be fewer levels of management between the permitting engineer and the decisionmaker in large districts.
4. Permitting Manuals
a. Standardized policies and procedures
**There was strong support for districts to have standardized policies, procedures and emission factors that are available to the regulated community.
**CAPCOA/ARB should push for more consistency in permitting between districts.
**Districts should advertise that permitting manuals are available.
-The Bay Area AQMD's handbook is good; more equipment should be included.
-There is a need for greater consistency within districts (permitting and compliance). District permitting engineers should follow their own districts manuals and policies.
b. Best Available Control Technologies
-A CAPCOA/ARB bulletin board with BACT, etc., was suggested as a way to keep more current than the manuals.
-Districts should be open to considering new technology for BACT.
c. Other comments on permitting manuals
-Participants wanted more districts to implement some of the streamlining measures discussed at this workshop.
-Small districts should borrow from larger districts.
-RACT bulletin board/manual should be developed.
-There is a need to recognize that there are different requirements for CEQA and district rules.
5. Streamlined Recordkeeping and Reporting
a. Simplified recordkeeping for smaller sources
**Recordkeeping should be simplified.
-There should be good reasons for requiring records and for the frequency of data collection.
-Reporting requirements should be consistent with permit conditions, for example for averaging times.
-Records should be kept in an appropriate location. Companies should have flexibility where records are kept; they should be allowed to keep records at company's central business office, even if it is out of the district.
-Businesses should be allowed to use income tax returns or sales taxes documentation as proof/indicator.
b. Automation for larger sources
-Electronic data filing should be available. It allows business to enter data, have access for compliance, and print out or sent by E-mail to districts.
-Companies should have the option to use sophisticated electronic systems; they should not be required to use them since they can be very expensive.
-There should be the option of providing qualifications and explanations for variable data.
-Automation should focus on the source or process where it can be done easily, not be dependent on the size of the source.
-P/Cs are okay, too.
c. Other comments on recordkeeping and reporting
-There should be simplified reporting forms for each type of source.
-All district reporting requirements should be integrated so a source
fills out only one district form.
-There should be uniform reporting forms for all districts.
-Reporting forms should be coordinated with other agencies.
-Records should be kept with the source, not sent to districts.
-Companies should be given the flexibility of different pollution
-Bar codes should be used.
-Facilities need more training so they know what information to keep and how.
-Facilities should assign one person the job of keeping records.
-There should be a single point of contact at the district.