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News Brief: Grace Period From Above: Time Given Small Business to Comply with Air Rules

Winter 1995

Wisconsin’s DNR has developed a confidentiality policy concerning small businesses that seek assistance from the Department of Development in meeting Clean Air Act obligations.

The policy is intended to be consistent with EPA’s enforcement policy respecting small businesses. The federal policy allows small businesses a limited correction period to comply with an emission limit deadline under a new air quality regulation (defined as one that was promulgated within three years of discovering the violation). The policy goals are to promote voluntary compliance and encourage small businesses to seek compliance assistance when needed.

Under the state policy, qualified small businesses that seek one-to-one compliance assistance from the DOD will be offered confidentiality. DOD staff and supporting organizations normally will not inform DNR of violations detected while consulting with sources, except in cases of endangerment to human health.

If DNR becomes involved in providing one-to-one compliance assistance, DNR can offer a 90-day period for the small business to correct the violation. During the period, DNR will forego all enforcement actions. Under the current policy, a 90-day extension can be allowed, based on good faith efforts to comply, after which the business is subject to all applicable enforcement policies.

The 90-day correction period will not preclude DNR from: (1) addressing violations for which a prior DNR enforcement action was taken; (2) responding to any imminent and substantial endangerment to human health or the environment; or (3) taking action concerning criminal activity.

DNR has indicated that if a violation is found because a person calls DNR for assistance, a correction period should be offered as a matter of policy. But, because the policy is aimed at encouraging voluntary compliance, violations found during DNR inspections will be subject to normal enforcement procedures.

Only businesses meeting criteria set under the Clean Air Act can receive the 90-day correction period.

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