New Source Review Permitting Programs

This page last reviewed June 19, 2015


New Source Review (referred to as NSR) is a title applied to programs regulating the new construction of, and / or modifications to, industrial sources which emit, or will emit, air pollutants. The permits resulting from this process are termed New Source Review, Prevention of Significant Deterioration, Minor New Source Review, and / or Nonattainment Area Permits depending on the issuing agency, area designation for state and National Ambient Air Quality Standards (attainment, nonattainment, and unclassifiable areas), and the amount and type of pollutants that the source will emit. In California, local air districts have the primary responsibility for issuance of air permits.

At this site you will find local air quality management / air pollution control district, California state, federal New Source Review / Prevention of Significant Deterioration, emission reduction credit banking, and offset program rules and regulations; alerts of New Source Review / Prevention of Significant Deterioration program changes; offset cost data; and related hot-links.

State New Source Review

The California New Source Review permit program is derived from the California Clean Air Act. New Source Review requirements arising from the California Clean Air Act are codified in the California Health and Safety Code at Division 26. Specific to New Source Review,each District is to include in its attainment plan, a stationary source control program designed to achieve no net increase in emissions of nonattainment pollutants or their precursors for all new or modified sources that exceed particular emission thresholds. In addition, most new and modified stationary sources are required to use Best Available Control Technology (referred to as BACT). In California, Best Available Control Technology is synonymous with the federal term Lowest Achievable Emission Rate (referred to as LAER) for nonattainment area permit requirements.

Each of the 35 Air Pollution Control Districts in California has its own New Source Review program and issues its own New Source Review or Prevention of Significant Deterioration permits to construct and operate. To do so, each district has adopted its own rules and regulations to comply with State and federal laws. These regulations usually incorporate both the California and federal regulations into one or more rules. Depending on the quantity of emissions of air pollutants that will be emitted from the source and the area designation for that pollutant, the new or modified source may be required to install (Best Available Control Technology). In addition, new and / or modified sources in California may be required, depending on the type and quantity of pollutants emitted, to mitigate or "offset" the increases in emissions that result after installation of Best Available Control Technology / Lowest Achievable Emission Rate. Conversely, if a source shuts down a permitted emission unit, or decreases emissions greater than what is required by any district, state or federal rule, it may receive emission reduction credits that it may use at a later date to offset new emissions, or can sell to another facility that may be increasing its emissions. The cost of these emission reduction credits is set by the owner of the credits and varies depending on type of pollutant and the District in which they are generated.

Federal New Source Review

Federal New Source Review is divided into two permitting programs, Nonattainment Area (also known as "New Source Review" or "Nonattainment New Source Review") and Prevention of Significant Deterioration of air quality. NOTE: At this site we will refer to the federal Nonattainment Area permitting program as federal New Source Review and refer to the attainment permitting progam as Prevention of Significant Deterioration.

New and modified major stationary sources of criteria pollutants are permitted by districts as required by Section 110 of the Federal Clean Air Act. They may also be subject to additional siting requirements found in Parts C and D of Title 1 of the federal Clean Air Act. The Part C requirements are titled "Prevention of Significant Deterioration of Air Quality. " The Part D requirements are titled "Plan Requirements for Nonattainment Areas."

Federal New Source Review regulations are applied to the siting and modification of sources that are located in pollutant specific areas designated as federal nonattainment for National Ambient Air Quality Standards. Prevention of Significant Deterioration are the regulations applied to sources that are located in pollutant specific areas that have been designated as federal attainment for the National Ambient Air Quality Standards. The purpose of federal New Source Review is to ensure that ambient air quality does not deteriorate any further in nonattainment areas, while Prevention of Significant Deterioration ensures that areas with good air quality will continue to maintain good air quality. These regulations can be found in Title 40 of the Code of Federal Regulations beginning at: 40 CFR Part 51 and in 40 CFR Part 52. Additional information on permitting can be found at U.S. EPA, Region IX.

Related Links

Contact Information:

For more information about the ARB's New Source Review activities, please contact one of the following: Mike Tollstrup at (916) 322-6026 or Chris Gallenstein at (916) 324-8017.