In an effort to simplify the air permitting process and increase operational efficiency of the department, the WDNR Bureau of Air Management undertook a permit streamlining initiative in 2013. The streamlining initiative consists of two phases. The first phase of the initiative addresses rules that are less complex and can be revised relatively quickly. The second phase of the initiative will address more complex rules. The Air Management Study Group, a group formed in 2013 by WDNR to provide feedback to WDNR on policy and technical issues has had significant involvement in the streamlining initiative. To address the topics identified for the first phase, workgroups were formed comprised of Air Management Study Group members, WDNR, and other stakeholders.

Additionally, the WDNR led a review of NR 445 (Control of Hazardous Pollutants) to resolve inconsistencies between federal and state requirements addressing engine testing fuel sulfur content. WDNR has drafted proposed rules associated with the first phase of the initiative and is currently drafting the economic impact analysis. Public comments on the proposed rules will occur in early 2015. The main items addressed in the proposed rules include:

  • Changes to NR 406 and 407 for minor sources to allow specified pre-construction activities to proceed while construction permit issuance is pending. The WDNR also provides the following list of pre-construction activities: installation of supports or foundation, laying piping or conduit, erecting storage structures, dismantling existing equipment, ordering equipment or controls, temporary storage of equipment onsite, site clearing, underground utilities, erosion control measures, and paving.
  • Changes to the definition of “emergency electric generator” – replacing with a broader definition of “restricted use reciprocating internal combustion engine”. The change in definition aligns the state and federal definitions for emergency and limited-use engines. The definition now provides reference to the RICE NESHAP. However, please note they did maintain the 200 operating hours per year definition for emergency.
  • Changes to procedures for revoking construction permits and non-part 70 operation permits to allow DNR to revoke a permit after providing 21 days notice for various reasons such as source shutdown.
  • Defining a natural minor source for the operation permit program and creating an exemption for natural minor sources from the requirement to obtain an operation permit.
  • Amending rules to specify that non-part 70 operation permits do not expire.
  • Amending the existing rules to allow high sulfur diesel testing in engines as long as PM BACT is applied.

The allowance for specified pre-construction activities at minor sources (first bullet listed above) attempted to address those activities frequently requested and approved in construction permit waivers. The proposed exclusions are particularly relevant in Wisconsin, when winter can delay breaking ground on a project for as long as 4-6 months. It is important to note that the proposed exclusions would only affect minor source construction or modification projects, and the department estimates that this proposed rule change would affect between 38 and 50 facilities with small construction projects each year. More information about the proposed rule changes will be found in future eNews and can also be found on the Wisconsin Administrative Rulemaking Order or at the Air Permit Streamlining Initiative page. For additional questions on this proposed rules, or how your facility might be affected, please contact Jon Frost at 651-275-9900 or