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June 2006

Auto salvage yards permanently exempted from federal operating permit requirements

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently issued a final ruling permanently exempting auto salvage yards from having to obtain a Title V (federal operating) permit.

The purpose of the Title V permit is to reduce violations of air pollution laws and to improve enforcement of those laws. Operating permits outline all air pollution requirements that apply to specific facilities and require those facilities to make regular reports on how they track and control emissions and also require the facilities to certify each year whether the have met their air pollution requirements.

The final ruling prohibits states from issuing federal operating permits to “area sources” once the Agency has exempted them from the national permitting program. States may continue to issue other types of air permits for such sources, such as state operating permits. “Area sources” are small facilities that emit less than 10 tons per year of a single toxic air pollutant or fewer than 25 tons of a combination of such pollutants. Small sources that are secondary lead smelters are still required to obtain a federal operating permit.

In order to exempt a category of “area sources” from operating permitting requirements, the Clean Air Act requires EPA to determine that complying with the requirements is “impracticable, infeasible, or unnecessarily burdensome” for the area source. Based on that criterion, the EPA has determined that all “area sources,” except secondary lead area sources, should be exempted. However, area sources are still required to monitor emissions and complete sworn statements demonstrating they are in compliance. Those statements are to be available to the public on request.

The EPA ruling does not alter the requirements governing the control of emissions of toxic air pollutants that apply to these facilities. It removes the impracticable and costly process of obtaining an operating permit.


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