On October 15, 2012 Mr. Stephen Page, Director of the Office of Air Quality Planning Standards at the US Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA), issued a memo on the timely processing of Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) permits (the "Page memo"). Since the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) is a PSD-delegated authority for issuing PSD permits, this guidance will apply in Illinois PSD permitting procedures. The Page memo summarizes the processing requirements detailed in the Clean Air Act (CAA) and identifies best practices for Regional Offices (e.g., USEPA) and PSD-delegated states to foster timely and consistent permit processing.
The Page memo underscores the need to issue PSD permits in a timely fashion. Accordingly, the memo makes several clarifications and expectations with respect to application processing timelines. For example, under the CAA, the USEPA is required to make a permit decision on a PSD permit application within one (1) year after the application is determined to be complete. Therefore, it is USEPA's goal per the Page memo that the Regional Office or PSD delegated agency (e.g., in Illinois, the IEPA is a PSD delegated agency) would make a final permit decision (to issue or deny) a PSD permit within ten (10) months after the date the application is determined to be complete. The USEPA regulations define a complete application as one that "contains all of the information necessary for processing the application" [40 CFR 52.21(b)(22)]; however, the Regional Office/PSD-delegated agency makes the decision as to when an application is complete. USEPA believes that for "non-controversial" projects, where there is no reason for a public hearing and appeal of the permit action is not anticipated, the Regional Office/PSD-delegated agency should be able to issue final permits within ten (10) months of the completeness determination. In another case, USEPA's goal, per the Page memo, is to determine whether the PSD application is complete within thirty (30) days of receipt. The Page memo includes suggested language for this completeness determination letter. The Page memo also suggests acceptable language for the Regional Office/PSD-delegated agency, and time periods for a response from the applicant, when additional information is deemed necessary.
The Page memo also provides details on the information needed in a PSD application to deem it complete. In addition to CAA requirements there are three other statutes that may apply to a PSD project in addition to the Endangered Species Act (ESA), which is always required. The three (3) other statutory requirements that may need to be addressed in the PSD permitting process include the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA), the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSFCMA) and Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA), which includes the Great Lakes.
The Page memo also re-iterates timeliness after the draft permit is developed. For example, if comments during the public comment period had requested a change to the draft permit, but there is no appeal to the USEPA Environmental Appeals Board (EAB), the permit decision becomes effective thirty (30) days after issuance. If an appeal of the permit is requested, a PSD permit does not become effective until further proceedings are completed. Appeals to the EAB have typically averaged five (5) months from date of appeal until decision.
A copy of the memo is available on the USEPA website.
It is Trinity's understanding, at the time of this writing, that the IEPA Construction Permit Staff who handle New Source Review are reviewing the Page memo. Future PSD permitting events in Illinois may thus integrate elements of the Page memo into the application and draft permit processing procedures.