What You Should Know About Air Permitting in South Carolina
Posted: April 23rd, 2020Authors: Claire C.
This article is part of ALL4’s 4 The Record: Quarantine Series.
As many of us are working from home right now, we are staying connected with the state environmental agencies to understand how we can work through the challenges that arise during our temporary normal. I’ve summarized what I’ve learned from conversations with South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) staff and provided links to electronic resources that are regularly kept up to date.
DHEC is currently accepting air permit applications via email in place of hard copy submittals. Key DHEC staff are still in the office to accept hard copy submittals that are sent via mail or that are hand delivered. Additional safety measures are in place for those who are hand delivering and receiving applications. Permittees that use the electronic submittal process will be asked to mail a hard copy of the application at a later date. The responsible official’s signature must be included with the electronic or hard copy submittal but for professional engineers (PE) who left their seals in the office, DHEC will work with you for submittals with this requirement. Signed air permit applications may be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Expedited air permit applications are now being accepted again after a temporary suspension. Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) construction permit applications require a preapplication meeting 90 days prior to application submittal. Synthetic minor and minor permit types are encouraged to schedule a preapplication meeting, but it is not required. Preapplication meetings between the Permittee and DHEC are being held virtually via phone or through programs that support screensharing.
Review and processing of air construction permit applications has not visibly slowed but part of this is due to a noted reduction in the number of these types of applications being submitted. Permits are still being put out for public notice using DHEC’s Environmental Public Notice webpage. If requested, DHEC plans to hold public meetings virtually to fulfill their obligations to provide for public participation, consistent with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Virtual Public Hearings and Meetings Memo.
DHEC maintains guidance on Environmental Regulatory Assistance during this time to offer case-by-case regulatory relief where the regulated community is impacted by COVID-19 and non-compliance is unavoidable. Guidance and deadline extensions are broken down by program. Recent programmatic air quality regulatory relief includes an extension to the emissions inventory due date from March 31, 2020 to April 30, 2020 and a 30-day extension to submit On-Site Implementation Logs (OSIL) that are due on or before April 29, 2020.
Permitting resources are made available online with a few of my most frequently referenced as summarized below.
- Issued air permits are located on DHEC’s website.
- DHEC provides forms and instructions for applications, reporting, and notifications for multiple programs in one location, including guidance on the expedited construction permitting process. Expedited permit applications are expected to be of the highest quality and are reviewed before being accepted into the program. Only expedited air permit applications require an application fee and the fee should be paid upon acceptance into the program, not prior. The applicant will have the opportunity to reapply for the program if the original application is not accepted.
- DHEC maintains a list of sources/activities that are exempt from construction permitting. Documentation must be maintained onsite for activities that fall into Section B of the list. To assist with compiling this documentation, DHEC offers the exempt source log (Form D-0721) and the Title V insignificant activity form (Form D-2944). A booklet is available to provide guidance and examples on making exempt source determinations and completing documentation requirements.
- Permittees are required to demonstrate that emissions from the facility will not interfere with the attainment or maintenance of any ambient air quality standard under SC Regulation 61-62.5, Standards No. 2, 3.1, 7, and 8, as applicable. This is completed through air dispersion modeling, exemption/deferral, or analysis based on other information. Air dispersion modeling guidance and exemptions are included in DHEC’s “Modeling Guidelines for Air Quality Permits” and analysis based on other information is provided in a separate document. Depending on the standard, site specific ambient monitoring may be used as the compliance demonstration on a case-by-case basis in place of air dispersion modeling.