At the Air Quality Technical Advisory Committee (AQTAC) meeting on September 6, 2017, Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) presented an overview of the current funding for the Air Quality Program and proposed fee concepts to ensure future viability of the Clean Air Fund. The presentation was, at that time, informational and DEP indicated that no formal proposal of fee changes would be implemented in the next year. However, the revised fee structure presented at the meeting included changes that impact major (Title V) and minor (non-Title V) sources, with proposed adjustments to annual emissions and permitting fees.
In the presentation, DEP indicated that they are considering developing new fees for the following:
- Review of Request for Determination (RFD) of Changes of Minor Significance and Exemption from Plan Approval/Operating Permit
- Plantwide Applicability Limits
- Review of ambient air dispersion modeling associated with certain Plan Approval applications
- Notification of Asbestos Abatement and Demolition/Renovation
In addition to the new fees, the Department is planning to increase current Plan Approval application fees and annual operating permit fees for both Title V facilities and non-Title V facilities (including the fees associated with general permits). The Title V emission fees will continue to be adjusted on a year to year basis according to the Consumer Price Index (projected to be $93.87 for emission year 2019). DEP noted that emissions at Title V facilities have fallen consistently over the past 15 years and additional measures may be needed to ensure proper funding of the program. At this time, DEP has not indicated that carbon dioxide will be included in its emission fees proposal.
The proposed fees are intended to fund the Air Quality Program and reverse a years-long trend in declining balance of the Clean Air Fund and eliminate projected deficits in the near term given the future federal and state funding uncertainty. Additionally, the proposed Title V fee increases will enable DEP the flexibility to pursue electronic permit application systems, develop an electronic fee payment system, and potentially add additional staff in the coming years.
AQTAC considers this a key topic and requested regular meetings on the fees proposal either as part of the regular AQTAC agenda or as a standalone meeting as the membership is interested in discussing the proposals provided by PADEP as well as options or improvements provided by the public. Trinity Consultants will continue to track this issue as it progresses to ensure that industrial stakeholders are kept informed of the proposed rate increases and opportunities for public comment.