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U.S. EPA Finalizes Rule Requiring Air Permits

Release Date: 10/3/2002
Contact Information: Lisa Fasano, U.S. EPA, (415) 947-4307

     The move partially withdraws a portion of California's air permitting program for agricultural sources

     SAN FRANCISCO   The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced today it has finalized a rule withdrawing a portion of California's Title V air permitting program from state control, turning it instead over to the federal government.

Today's final action follows a public comment period the agency provided on the proposed rule that was published in July of this year. The EPA expects the final rule to be published next week in the Federal Register and it will be effective 30 days after its publication.

The EPA is working closely with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the farming community and the local air districts to develop a program that identifies workable solutions and reasonable approaches to agricultural air emissions.  

"EPA's implementation of the Title V program for agricultural sources is temporary until the state program meets federal requirements. We are hopeful that the state law will be changed quickly," said Wayne Nastri, regional administrator of the EPA's Pacific Southwest Region.  "California state law needs to comply with the Clean Air Act."

The EPA approved California's Title V permitting program in December, which covered all major air pollution sources throughout the state and set a three-year timeline to study agricultural air pollution. But the agency's approval was challenged by three environmental coalitions because California law exempts major agricultural operations from Title V permit requirements. This is inconsistent with the federal Clean Air Act.

In May, a settlement agreement between the EPA and the three groups required the agency to propose a rule in July of this year to give the EPA responsibility for ensuring that large agricultural operations in California that emit large amounts of air pollution obtain Title V operating permits required under the Clean Air Act.  Today's finalization of that proposed rule allows the state to continue its existing permitting program for other stationary air pollution sources.  

The EPA anticipates that the vast majority of stationary agricultural sources will not require permitting and expects that the program will not impose any substantive new restrictions on agricultural operations. Sources that may require permits include facilities with large stationary diesel engines and large animal feeding operations. Applicability of the Title V permit program depends on where sources are located and the air quality rating of that area. Plowing or harvesting field activities will not trigger permitting requirements under the Title V program.

Implementation of this rule ensures that agricultural sources that are major sources of air pollution will meet their Clean Air Act requirements, Nastri added.

If California does not remove the exemption, high pollution areas throughout the state will be subject to stricter emission reduction ratios and a highway funding freeze.
                             
Information about today's rule will be available at: www.epa.gov/Region9/air/ca/title5.html