On July 12, 2011, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn signed into legislation House Bill 1297, which will make numerous changes to the Illinois Environmental Act.  The goal of this legislation is to make the environmental permitting process easier and more efficient. Highlights of the changes include increasing annual operating fees effective January 1, 2012, elimination of some existing permitting fees, additional options for permitting small facilities or certain equipment types, and Green House Gas (GHG) permitting implementation.

There are several modifications to the permitting program including the following updates.  Small sources may qualify for the new Registration of Small Source (ROSS) option, which includes an annual registration and annual fee of $235.  ROSS facilities would not be required to obtain permits from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA).  The Illinois Air Pollution Control Board (APCB) may adopt rules providing for permits by rule for classes of facilities or equipment.  Additionally, expedited permit review can be requested by an applicant, but additional fees will be required.  Electronic application preparation, submission, and agency review tracking will be implemented via a web portal. 

House Bill 1297 also addresses how Green House Gases (GHG) will be permitting in Illinois.  The definition of GHG mirror's the federal definition (i.e., aggregate of CO2, N2O, CH4, SF6, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons).  There will be no annual fees for GHGs.  Additionally, GHG permitting applicability is limited including no required construction or operating permit for GHGs emissions unless the equipment, site or source is "subject to regulation" per 40 CFR 52.21 (e.g., GHG Tailoring Rule).  This essentially means that the HB 1297 has an "auto-out" provision if the GHG Tailoring Rule is repealed court order determines that U.S. EPA does not have the authority to regulate GHGs.