Hotline, Fall 2000
On October 21, GASP, the Allegheny County Health Department and the EPA sponsored Title V Training for citizens.
What is Title V?
Title V (“five”) is part of the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990. It requires all existing facilities which are major sources of criteria and hazardous pollutants to obtain a new federally-required permit that applies to their day-to-day operation. Each Title V permit transcribes into one document all of the federal, state and local air pollution laws which apply to the facility. For citizens, this law has several advantages:
- There is now one document per facility where all the rules are listed.
- Prior to Title V, pollution regulations could be questioned at the enforcement stage, resulting in lengthy arguments over the applicability of regulations long after the damage was done. Title V sets the regulations at the time of the permit.
- Each facility is required to monitor itself, report the measurements, and certify the report.
- Measurement data not specifically collected for pollution monitoring can now be used to prosecute pollution violations.
- The Title V law guarantees that citizens are allowed to comment on draft permits and see the facilitiesi Title V reports.
- Title V permits must be renewed every five years, at which point errors in the prior permit can be corrected.
What are Title V permits and what process creates them?
Each facility must submit an application for a Title V permit to the air quality enforcement agency for that facilityis location. The permit is drafted by the air quality enforcement agency and must include pollution monitoring, record-keeping and reporting requirements for each pollution source.
When the draft permit is finished, the local agency announces a 30-day public comment period and sends the draft to the EPA for review. Changes prompted by citizens or by the EPA may be made during the comment period. When the EPA approves the draft and its revisions, it becomes the facilityis five-year Title V permit. As a compendium of all prior law, the Title V permit is, with few exceptions, the facilityis single source of air pollution law.
Why should citizens review the draft permits?
There are many opportunities for citizen involvement in the Title V program. If there is a facility that you care about and you wonder what laws apply to it and whether itis obeying those laws, Title V makes it easier for you to obtain answers.
Title V permits must carefully transcribe and specify all air pollution regulations for a facility. Companies must comply with the letter of the law, so a missing or vague requirement means the facility may decide to do only what is written, leaving room for air pollution to occur when none was allowed by the pre-Title V regulations.
You need not be a lawyer to review a Title V application or draft permit. You can help prevent missing and vague requirements by reviewing the applications and drafts of the facilities you care about. By reviewing and commenting you also win the right to appeal a bad permit. This is because Title V law stipulates that those who comment on draft permits during the 30-day comment period have the right to appeal the final permit during its five year term. Those who do not comment cannot appeal.
The October 21 training class explained the Title V process and showed us how to look for vague and missing requirements. The documents were lengthy, technical and a bit daunting, but we were encouraged to learn that we can help by being another set of eyes and looking for simple mistakes.
Status of the Title V permit program in Allegheny County
Air quality in Pennsylvania, except in Philadelphia and Allegheny counties, is enforced by the PA Department of Environmental Protection. Because our local air quality enforcement agency is the Allegheny County Health Department (ACHD) and ACHD is still awaiting Title V certification from EPA, no Title V permits have been issued yet in Allegheny County.
There are 48 major source facilities in the county which require a Title V permit. All of the facilities submitted Title V applications in 1995, some of which must be revised because processes and sources have changed since then. However, no applications have entered the draft permit 30-day comment period and no permits are approved yet. Elsewhere in Pennsylvania, about 50% of the major sources have already received Title V permits, leaving those who live near them a bit behind the curve and waiting for the initial 5-year permit to expire.
Here in Allegheny County, we have the opportunity to review all the Title V permits before they become law and be an active part in protecting our air quality. If you are interested in helping review Title V applications and draft permits, call the GASP office at 412-441-6650. A good proposal reader does not have to be a person with technical training; if youire not sure you could do it, give it a try.
by Kate St. John, GASP Board Member