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Regulatory Handbook -> Air Quality Permits -> Air Operating Permit

Air Operating Permit

What is the Purpose of this Permit?
An air operating permit is a master document that lists all of the air pollution requirements that apply to a business or industry. The purpose of the Air Operating Permit is to safeguard public health and the environment by improving compliance and controlling air pollution.
Who Issues this Permit?
Variable: See notes/comments for more information.
What Activities Require this Permit?
Commercial and industrial businesses that emit large amounts of air pollution are required to get an air operating permit. This includes:

  • More than 100 tons per year of any pollutant.
  • More than 10 tons per year of any hazardous air pollutant
  • More than 25 tons per year of a combination of hazardous air pollutants.

Even if a facility does not have the potential to emit the above amounts, it may still need an Air Operating Permit if it is subject to certain federal air quality requirements, including:

  • The Title IV Acid Rain Program
  • New Source Performance Standard
  • A National Emission Standard for Hazardous Air Pollutants

Please note: Commercial and industrial businesses with new sources of air pollution must submit an Air Operating Permit application within 12 months of starting operation or becoming subject to the program. Businesses who need to renew their permit must submit a renewal application according to the current Air Operating Permit.
How Much Will this Permit Cost?
Annual fees vary according to the complexity of the source, air contaminant emissions, and the total number of Air Operating Permit sources in Washington. At the end of each fiscal year (July 1 – June 30), we prepare an annual report summarizing air operating permit program work and fees. Find the current fees under Budget and Fees on the Ecology Air operating permit web page.
Do I Need to Include Anything with my Application?
Please refer to the application instructions.
Is the Decision on my Permit Dependent on Anything Besides the Information in my Application?
When making the decision on your permit, Ecology will consider the applicable laws and rules, the contents of your application, and the background environmental conditions.
How Long Will it Take to Review my Application?
At least six months, but not more than 18 months.
Where do I Submit my Application?
If the Department of Ecology issues the permit, submit the application to the address on the application. If a local clean air agency issues the permit, follow the instructions on their application.
Schematic:
View the schematic
How Long is my Permit Valid?
An operating permit is valid for five years and must be renewed 6–18 months before the current permit expires.
What is the Appeal Process for the Permit?
You have the right to appeal this permit to the Pollution Control Hearings Board (PCHB) within 30 days of the date of receipt of this permit. The appeal process is governed by Chapter 43.21B RCW and Chapter 371-08 WAC. “Date of receipt” is defined in RCW 43.21B.001(2).

You must also comply with other applicable requirements in Chapter 43.21B RCW and Chapter 371-08 WAC.

Read the Pollution Control Board’s Appeal Process web page for more details.

Additionally, operating permits may be petitioned to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, under Section 505(b) of the Federal Clean Air Act.
Notes / Comments:
Who issues this permit?
The agency that issues these permits varies by location.

Department of Ecology issues permits in the following counties:

  • Ecology Central Regional Office - Chelan, Douglas, Kittitas, Klickitat, Okanogan Counties
  • Ecology Eastern Regional Office - Adams, Asotin, Columbia, Ferry, Franklin, Garfield, Grant, Lincoln, Pend Oreille, Stevens, Walla Walla, Whitman Counties
  • Ecology Industrial Section Headquarters Office - Pulp & Paper Mills and Aluminum Smelters

For all other counties contact the local clean air agency.

If the facility is on Tribal Land, the United States Environmental Protection Agency issues the air operating permit.

Where can I get the application for this permit?
If the Department of Ecology issues the permit, use Ecology’s application. Air Quality Operating Permit Application and Instructions. If a local clean air agency issues the permit, contact them for their application.
Permit Timeliness Results

Permit Timeliness data collection is in response to a State Auditor’s Performance Audit and RCW 43.42A. Each regulatory agency developed a plan to improve permit clarity, predictability, and timeliness. Each agency considers the customers experience to ensure permit assistance is simple to use, easy to access, and designed in a customer-friendly manner. Agencies report progress to the Governor’s Office for Regulatory Innovation and Assistance (ORIA). ORIA prepares and distributes reports, with participation from the State Auditor’s Office and Results Washington. See latest report here: https://www.oria.wa.gov/ORIA-2018-PermitTimelinessProgressReport.pdf.

All permits submitted for reporting were entered into this Regulatory Handbook. Here are the results of the performance data:

Estimated Time Required By the Agency to Process a Permit Application (Definition)
Average number of days from Receipt to Complete: 98
Maximum number of days from Receipt to Complete: 370

Estimated Time Required By the Agency to Issue a Permit Decision (Definition)
Average number of days from Complete Application to Decision: 1763
Maximum number of days from Complete Application to Decision: 3295

(Summary results based on 6 submittals in 2020)

Where can I get permitting assistance?
Subject matter expert phone: Contacts vary by location. You can call the statewide contact below and ask for the Air Operating Permit Coordinator.
Statewide Contact:
Department of Ecology
Air Quality Program
Headquarters
300 Desmond Drive
PO Box 47600
Olympia, WA 98504-7600
Telephone: (360) 407-6800
Fax: (360) 407-7534
Website: http://www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/air/airhome.html
* Permit information last updated 12/4/2020
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