Recently Published Changes to PADEP Air Permit Fees
Posted: January 23rd, 2021Authors: David R.
Effective on January 16th, 2021, air quality applications, permits, Requests for Determination (RFD), and initial asbestos notifications are subject to new and/or increased fees in Pennsylvania. The amended fees are a result of a three-year regulatory process where the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP) reviewed past fees and addressed the disparity between revenue and expenses for PADEP’s air quality program. The Environmental Quality Board (Board) adopted the proposed rulemaking at its meeting on December 18, 2018. In 2019, the proposed rule was published for a 66-day comment period where the Board received comments from 1,427 commenters including the House of Representatives Environmental Resources and Energy Committee, the House of Representatives, and the Independent Regulatory Review Commission (IRRC). Furthermore, the Department consulted with the Air Quality Technical Advisory Committee (AQTAC) and the Small Business Compliance Advisory Committee (SBCAC) in the development of the amended fees. In late 2019 and early 2020, AQTAC and SBCAC agreed, respectively, with the Department’s recommendation to move this final-form rulemaking forward to the Board for consideration. The rule was subsequently adopted by the Board at its meeting in July of 2020 and finally published in the Pennsylvania Bulletin on January 16th, 2021. The amended fees ensure that PADEP’s funds are sufficient to cover the cost of administering the plan approval application and operating permit process as required by Section 502(b) of the Clean Air Act (CAA). PADEP has added or amended fees to the following applications and/or requests: plantwide applicability limits (PAL), ambient air impact modeling of certain plan approval applications, risk assessments, asbestos abatement and RFDs. Additionally, PADEP has significantly increased fees for the use of plan approvals and general operating permits. Please see Table 1 below for a summary of the amended permit fees.
The most notable changes include new fees for RFDs, an increased maintenance fee for both state-only operating permits (SOOP) and Title V permits, and various increased plan approval fees. For RFDs filed during calendar years 2021 – 2025, owners or operators of a small business stationary source, will be required to pay a fee of $400. Otherwise, non-small business stationary sources will be required to pay a fee of $600. Perhaps the most drastic change is the increased maintenance fee (previously known as an administration fee) for all operating permits. For any natural minor source, the maintenance fee will increase from $375 to $2,000 and for any synthetic minor source, the maintenance fee will increase from $375 to $4,000. For Title V permits, the maintenance fee will increase from $750 to $8,000. You may have a few questions, so we summarized a few common ones and the respective answer as of the publication of the fee amendments in the Pennsylvania Bulletin.
Q1: How will facilities make payments?
A1: Generally, fees are submitted by check, with some exceptions. Online RFD submittals must pay by credit card or eCheck to submit. Paper submittals must pay by paper check.
Q2: I have an operating permit, when will my first maintenance fee be due?
A2: Facilities with an operating permit (i.e., natural minor, synthetic minor, or Title V) for calendar year 2021 must submit the amended maintenance fees by March 17, 2021 (60 days after the January 16, 2021 final rulemaking publication). For subsequent years (i.e., 2022 and on) the annual operating permit maintenance fee will be due by December 31st of the preceding year (i.e., the fee for 2022 will be paid on December 31, 2021). Note that there will be two payments during 2021: one payment for 2021 (due March 17, 2021); and one payment for 2022 (due December 31, 2021).
Q3: My facility is a major stationary source with a Title V Operating Permit, does the maintenance fee replace my emissions fee statement due September 1 of each year?
A3: Unfortunately, no. The operating permit maintenance fee does not replace the annual Title V emission fees due September 1 (covering fees for actual air emissions during the previous calendar year). Pursuant to 25 Pa §127.705, each Title V facility, including a Title V facility located in Philadelphia County or Allegheny County, will still be required to pay a base rate fee of $85 per ton for each ton of a regulated pollutant actually emitted from the facility. PADEP will send out invoices for the fees in the summer containing the latest $/ton amount, adjusted annually for inflation using the consumer price index (i.e., in 2019 the fee was $93.06/ton). Each facility will only be required to pay fees for up to 4,000 tons of emissions.
Q4: When will this become effective?
A4: The revised fees are already effective. However, the due date for the fee may simply be in the future (e.g., deferred 60 days from publication of the change), or become triggered by an event (e.g., submitting an application). Any air quality application, RFD or initial asbestos notification received on or after January 16, 2021, must be accompanied with the appropriate new or updated fee.
Q5: My facility has a State-Only Operating Permit, how do I know if I’m a synthetic minor or natural minor facility and subject to the respective fee.
A5: This depends upon the potential emissions from the Facility and if an emissions limit or restriction was taken as an enforceable permit condition (or conditions) limiting emissions below certain thresholds. The cover page of your permit may or may not specify.
If you have any additional questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to David Ross at firstname.lastname@example.org or 610-422-1103.