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Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) air permitting update

March 11, 2015
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Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) air permitting update

March 11, 2015
View as PDF

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The WDNR is accepting comments through March 16, 2015, on a proposed rule, NRB Order Number AM-24-12, which would streamline the air permitting process and make air permitting easier to understand, particularly for smaller sources of air pollution. Also, WDNR’s Brownfield Study Group is proposing a new innovative air permit flexibility program for developers of brownfield sites in Wisconsin. This newsletter will describe both proposals.

WNDR proposed rule to simplify air permitting for minor sources is open for public comment

Changes to the proposed rule includes

NRB Order Number AM-24-12’s proposed changes primarily provide increased flexibility to smaller sources, or "minor" sources, of air pollution. With respect to air construction permits, the proposed rule would allow certain pre-construction activities to occur while a minor source’s construction permit is still pending. These pre-construction activities include actions such as site clearing, installation of building supports or foundations, ordering equipment or control devices and dismantling existing equipment or structures. With respect to air operation permits, the proposed rule defines natural minor sources and exempts natural minor sources from the requirement to obtain an air operation permit. In addition, the proposed rule would make minor source operation permits non-expiring. This change would reduce fees and paperwork associated with air operation permitting for minor sources.

AM-24-12 also proposes changes to align Wisconsin’s administrative rules with federal rules. The proposed rule would allow sources to burn high sulfur diesel fuel as required by federal rules for large marine engine testing and would create an exemption from air construction and operation permit requirements for restricted use engines. The text of the proposed rule is available at:

Opportunity for public comment on the proposed rule

WDNR will hold a public hearing on March 11, 2015 in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, following an earlier public hearing on March 5, 2015 in Madison, Wisconsin. In addition, WDNR is accepting public comments on the proposed rule through March 16, 2015. Entities that may be affected by the proposed rule may wish to file comments to WDNR. Please contact us if you would like additional information or background on AM-24-12.

WDNR’s air permit streamlining initiative

AM-24-12 is part of the first phase of WDNR’s Air Management Study Group’s (AMSG) broader air permit streamlining initiative. During the first phase, the AMSG identified opportunities to simplify air pollution permitting that could be implemented relatively quickly and without complication through revisions to Wisconsin’s air permitting rules.

During the second phase, the AMSG will focus on rule revisions that are more complicated and will require additional discussion. Examples of topics the AMSG may address in the second phase include:

  • Defining the phrase "cause or exacerbate the violation of an ambient air quality standard or ambient air increment" as it is used in the air permitting rules;
  • Creating new exemptions for permitting requirements; expanding the usability of the minor permit revision process; and
  • Creating a process for administrative revision of construction permits.

Additional information on AMSG’s Air Permit Streamlining Initiative is available at:

Brownfields Study Group proposes innovative air program

Brownfield properties are contaminated properties that present special challenges for reuse as new manufacturing properties. The Brownfields Study Group is sponsoring new legislation that will afford developers of these challenging sites a special air permitting incentive, to wit: A registration permit approach that guarantees qualifying new minor source permit applicants no change to pollution control equipment required for the facility for a 10-year period. In addition, if the source expands during the 10-year period to become a major source and installs Best Available Control Technology, it could qualify for financial assistance for the remaining 10-year term if new standards are adopted that require new controls at the facility.

Manufacturing operations would be eligible for this favorable air permitting treatment under the proposal if the facility meets the following requirements:

  • It is enrolled in WDNR’s Green Tier program;
  • The property has entered the VPLE Program; and
  • Remediation required for the site has been completed.

For more information about this legislative proposal, please contact any member of Godfrey & Kahn’s Environment & Energy Strategies Team.

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