Accelerating air permitting decisions will be very helpful to almost everyone in business. An important Presidential environmental policy memorandum dated April 12, 2018 directing the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to take specific actions to ensure efficient and cost-effective implementation of the U.S. National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS, pronounced \’naks\) program, including permitting decisions for new and expanded facilities, and with respect to the Regional Haze Program, was published in the April 16, 2018 edition of the Federal Register.
Briefly, the memo, acknowledgrd that the periodic statutory review of the NAAQS for the “criteria pollutants” (ozone, particulate matter, nitrogen oxides, sulfur oxides, lead and carbon monoxide) has resulted in delayed Clean Air Act State Implementation Plan (SIP) reviews and has also had the effect of making the processing of preconstruction permits to construct new manufacturing facilities or their modification much more difficult.
The President has directed the Administrator of the EPA to:
(1) take specific actions to ensure efficient and cost-effective implementation of the NAAQS program and Regional Haze Program;
(2) to timely process all SIPs within 18 months of their submission;
(3) review all full or partial Federal Implementation Plans (FIPs) issued under the 2017 planning period and to develop options to replace FIPs with approvable SIPs if the States so desire;
(4) endeavor to take final action of preconstruction permit applications within one year of receiving a complete application;
(5) provide designated relief to state agencies that are addressing emissions beyond their control regarding Clean Air Act Section 319 (exceptional events demonstrations) and Section 179B petitions (regarding international emissions) , providing relief to state agencies responding to these petitions;
(6) take designated actions to ensure that monitoring and modeling data is used appropriately;
(7) provide flexibility to the States regarding the identification and execution of offsets, including flexible offset policies in rural areas;
(8) take steps to evaluate future NAAQS reviews and develop clear guidance for differentiating the role of science and policy considerations in establishing NAAQS;
(9) issue timely regulations and guidance when new NAAQS actions are taken affecting SIPs and preconstruction permit applications; and
(10) review and evaluate EPA’s existing rules, guidance, memos and other public documents relating to the implementation of NAAQS, and, following that review, revise and/or rescind those documents and policies that hinder timely permitting decisions.