Air Districts (APCD OR AQMD) Operating Permits

This page last reviewed April 20, 2010


Who Needs an Operating Permit?
  With few exceptions, anyone operating a facility that emits air pollutants must obtain an operating permit from the local air pollution control district (APCD) or the air quality management district (AQMD). The operating permits of major facilities will need to include federal Title V requirements in addition to local district requirements. For the purposes of Title V, major facilities are determined based upon the type and amount of emissions and, in some cases, the severity of air pollution problems in the area where the facility is located.


Where Should the Developer-Applicant Apply?
  Developer-applicants should direct inquiries and applications to the APCD that issued the Authority to Construct permit.


What Information Should the Developer-Applicant Provide Upon Applications?
  Each Air District uses its own application form for the Permit to Operate. In general, the Air District asks the applicant to certify that the developer-applicant completed the construction according to the terms and conditions of the Authority to Construct and that the facility will meet the district's regulations. In addition, the developer-applicant of a facility subject to Title V requirements will need to certify that the facility will comply with any applicable federal requirements.


What Application Fee Must the Developer-Applicant Submit? 
  Each Air District uses its own Permit to Operate fee schedule. The Air District will generally charge the applicant a permit fee equal to that paid for the Authority to Construct, not including the initial filing fee. If the Air District must collect samples to analyze the emission from any source, it will charge the applicant a fee to cover its expenses. The district may require an additional fee for facilities with Title V requirements. Fees range from $100.00 to $10,000.00 in major metropolitan areas.


How Does the Air District Evaluate and Process the Application?
  Criteria for Evaluation. The Air District evaluates applications for a Permit to Operate to determine whether the developer-applicant constructed the facility according to the conditions of the Authority to Construct. The Air District also determines whether the developer-applicant will comply with the district's rules and regulations when operating the facility. The air district will also determine compliance with applicable federal regulations in the case of facilities with Title V requirements. A compliance source test may be required. If required, the test must be conducted by the district or by an approved independent source testing consultant.
  Procedures. The Air District conducts, or directs the developer-applicant to conduct, an inspection of  the above facility to determine whether it meets the criteria described above. If the facility is acceptable, the Air Pollution Control Officer (APCO) issues the Operating Permit. This process generally takes from one to four months. Depending on the Air District, the Operating Permit is usually valid for one year. With respect to Title V requirements, if they apply, the permit is usually valid for five years.
  Appeals. If the APCO denies the Permit to Operate, the applicant may appeal the decision to the district's Hearing Board (Board) within 10 days of the denial notice. The applicant must file a petition with the Board and submit a fee ranging from $25.00 to $250.00. This petition must include:


The Petitioner's Name, Address, and Telephone Number


The Type of Business or Activity Involved in the Application


A Brief Description of the Article, Machine, or Equipment Involved in the
Application and


The Reasons for the Denial and the Appeal.
  The Board conducts a public hearing to consider the appeal at which the applicant, Air District staff, and the general public may present testimony. The Board must reach a decision within 30 days of receipt of the appeal, unless the applicant and the Air District agree to an additional 30 days.
  The Board mails its copy of its decision to the applicant, the Air District, and all persons who testified at the public hearing. The decision contains a brief statement of facts found by the Board to be true, the Board's determination of the issues involved, and its order. The decision generally becomes effective 30 days after the Board mails the copies to the parties listed above. However, the Board has no authority in those cases where the United States Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) denies an operating permit based upon lack of compliance with Title V requirements.


What Are the Developer-Applicant's Rights and Responsibilities After the Permit is Granted?
  Rights. To renew a Permit to Operate, the developer-applicant may be required to pay a renewal fee, which must be paid before the termination date of the existing permit. The U.S. EPA or the Air Districts, if requested by the agency, may revoke an operating permit if Title V requirements have been violated.
  Responsibilities. The Air Districts are responsible for ensuring that facilities continue to operate according to district rules and regulations and in compliance with applicable Title V requirements.


What Are the Air District's Rights and Responsibilities After the Permit is Granted?
  Rights. The Air District may revoke a Permit to Operate if the developer-applicant has not begun operating the facility within one year of completing construction. The Board may revoke a Permit to Operate if it finds after a public hearing, that the developer-applicant has violated any district rules and regulations.
  Responsibilities. The Air Districts are responsible for ensuring that the emission sources continue to operate according to the rules and regulations of their respective districts.


What Other Agencies Should the Developer-Applicant Contact?
  By the time the developer-applicant has applied for the Permit to Operate, all other required development permits should have been obtained.


What Other Sources of Information Are Available to the Developer-Applicant?
  Developer-applicants may wish to refer to the publications listed below for further information about air quality regulations:


Rules and Regulations / Permit Applications, Published by Each Air District


Clean Air Act (42 U.S.C. 1857 et seq.)


California Health and Safety Code, sections 39000-43834; and


California Air Pollution Control Laws, Published Annually by the Air Resources Board.
  These publications are generally available at the local APCD / AQMD offices, county or state law libraries, and at the Air Resources Board, P.O. Box 2815, Sacramento, California 95812.

Air Districts (APCD OR AQMD) Operating Permits