Fenstermaker Logo

We’re the Air Permitting Know-It-Alls.

We’ve collected some common FAQs below to get you started, but air permitting requirements vary widely depending on your specific needs. Start a conversation with our experts today to make sure you’re covered.

Have a question? Hit us with your best shot.

  • Do I need an Air Permit?

    It depends.

    Some activities require no air permitting action whatsoever (i.e., most activities conducted on residential property). While others, such as installation of a compressor engine at an oil and gas production site, may require an operating permit or other permitting action.

    Typically, if a facility burns something and/or stores or handles any organic or dusty materials, then it emits air pollutants and may possibly require a permit. An assessment based on facility throughput and other operating data is needed to determine if a permit is necessary.

    Our air permitting team specializes in exemption determination as well as air operating permit applications. Chat with our experts today about your facility’s status.

  • What is an air contaminant?

    An air contaminant is defined as particulate matter, dust, fumes, gas, mist, smoke, or vapor.

  • What are emission sources (units)?

    An emission source is considered any part or activity of a stationary source that emits or has the potential to emit any regulated air pollutant.

  • What is an Air Pollutant?

    There are two basic categories of air pollutants under federal regulation, “criteria” pollutants and Hazardous Air Pollutants (HAP). The six (6) principal or “criteria” air pollutants are:

    • Particulate matter (PM10 and PM2.5)1
    • Carbon monoxide (CO)
    • Nitrogen oxides (NOx­­)
    • Sulfur dioxide (SO2)
    • Ozone (including VOC)2
    • Lead (Pb)

    The second category, Hazardous Air Pollutants, are chemical compounds known or suspected to cause adverse effects in humans. A full list of these pollutants can found in Section 112(b) of the Federal Clean Air Act (CAA).


    Each state may additionally adopt its own list of regulated air pollutants.


    For more information on air pollutants, ask our air permitting team.



    1 Particulate matter with an aerodynamic diameter of less than or equal to a nominal 10 and 2.5 micrometers, respectively.


    2 Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) and NOx are regulated precursors of ground-level ozone.

  • When do I need to apply for an air permit?

    Owners or operators should apply for a permit as early in the project as possible.

    • Before installing new equipment or processes that may release or control air contaminants;
    • Before modifying existing permitted equipment or changing a permitted process;
    • Before an existing permitted facility changes ownership;
    • Before existing permitted equipment is relocated to a new address;
    • When a permitted facility wishes to modify a permit condition, including changing its permitted emissions;
    • When new regulations are promulgated that require permitting or impact permitted equipment or processes.
  • What are the different types of air permits?

    The list of potential air quality authorizations are as follows:

    De Minimis Facilities/Sources
    Sources which are listed in the De Minimis List.

    Permit by Rule Authorizations (PBR)

    1. Operation emits less than:
      • 250 tons per year (tpy) of CO/ NOx
      • 25 tpy VOC/SO2/PM
      • 15 tpy PM10
      • 10 tpy PM2.5
    2. Standard Permits (SP)
      • Project specific
    3. New Source Review Permits (NSR)
      • Do not qualify for a PBR or SP
      • Preconstruction permit
      • Authorizes the construction of new major sources of air pollution or major modifications of existing sources
    4. Flexible Permits
      • Allows an owner/operator more flexibility in managing the operations by staying under an overall emissions cap or individual emission limitation
    5. Nonattainment Permits
      • Located in a nonattainment area
      • Installation of lowest achievable emission rate control technology
    6. Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) Permits
      • Major stationary source
      • Located in an attainment area
    7. Title V Federal Operating Permits (FOP)
      • Facility is classified as a major source
  • What is a modification?

    Any physical change in, or change in the method of operation of a facility in a manner that increases the amount of any air contaminant emitted by the facility into the atmosphere or that results in the emission of any air contaminant not previously emitted. Modifications include changes in method of control, changes in character of emissions, and increases in actual emissions or emissions allowed to be emitted by the permit

  • How do I avoid a penalty/fine?

    • Comply with the enforceable conditions found within the issued air permit
    • Operate the facility within the established emission limits
    • Perform all monitoring and testing requirements
    • Maintain records as required by the conditions in the permit
    • Submit all necessary records to the environmental agency in a timely fashion prior to the deadline
    • Obtain an air permit for the facility (as required)
  • Do I have to report greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions?

    If you are a petroleum and natural gas facility located in the hydrocarbon basin, that emits 25,000 tons or more of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) per year, you will be required to monitor and report all GHG emissions to EPA.

    If you are a facility located in the hydrocarbon basin, that emits 25,000 tons or more of CO2e from stationary combustion sources, excluding flares, you will be required to monitor and report all GHG emissions to EPA.

  • Do I have to report annual emissions?

    Annual emissions are required for facilities which meet the definition of a major source, emit a minimum of 10 tpy VOC, 25 tpy NOx, or 100 tpy or more of any other contaminant subject to NAAQS. Annual emission reporting also applies to facilities that have the potential to emit 100 tpy or more of any contaminant except for GHGs, individually, emits or has the potential to emit 10 tons of any single or 25 tons of aggregate hazardous air pollutants. Lastly, any facility that’s a minor industrial, area, non-road mobile, or mobile source of emissions subject to special inventories are required to submit annual emission reports.

  • What do I do when I receive a violation?

    There are 3 forms of violations issued to the facility:

    1. Notice of Violation (NOV) – violations observed during an inspection
    2. Notice of Enforcement (NOE) – written notification that formal enforcement action for violations observed during an inspection will be initiated
    3. Administrative Orders (AO) – orders enforcing or directing compliance with any provisions – – whether of statutes, rules, regulations, permits, licenses, or orders
      Agreed Orders- used when the respondent agrees to the terms and conditions of the administrative order, including the penalty

    If the facility has received a violation, you will have a prescribed time period to return to compliance and provide documentation that all violations have been corrected.

  • What do I do if I want to change the production rates at my facility?

    If you want to change the production rates at the facility, a permit modification is required.

  • What records must I maintain for my facility?

    Record keeping requirements are based on the issued permit. At minimum the facility should maintain records of the operating hours, maintenance activities, and production rates.

  • What is Tier II reporting?

    1. Storer of hazardous material.
    2. Tier II is Emergency and Hazardous Chemical inventory reporting mandated under Superfund Amendments & Reauthorization Act (SARA), Section 312 and applies to any facility that has greater than the minimum threshold of hazardous materials identified in EPA’s list of reportable chemicals.
    3. Filing is done on an annual basis. Reports are submitted for the previous calendar year (January 1 to December 31) and are due on March 1.
  • What to do if the agency requests to conduct an investigation?

    Schedule the investigation with the investigator and be prepared with all facility records, including monitoring and testing reports and all permit condition record keeping requirements.