How to Make Sure Your Air Compliance Program is On Track

As we move further into 2023, many facilities are working to meet regulatory deadlines for their air emissions sources. This may include compliance reporting, emissions inventories, permit renewals, greenhouse gas reports, and toxic release inventory (TRI) reporting. Instead of just going through the motions this year, now is a great time to take a fresh look at your air quality compliance program, tie up any loose ends from last year, and make sure you’re on the right track when it comes to compliance with air permitting and regulatory requirements.

Here are a few questions to ask yourself as you review your air compliance program:

Do you have any new air compliance obligations this year?

If you renewed or received a new air permit last year, make sure to review them thoroughly and identify any new reporting requirements that may affect your reporting schedule and workload in 2023. Review your existing permits as well, as you may have upcoming permit renewal or stack testing obligations that don’t fall into your regular annual reporting cycle. If new processes were added to your facility last year that are subject to any federal rules, such as New Source Performance Standards (NSPS), Maximum Achievable Control Technology (MACT) standards, or National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP), be sure you understand the reporting obligations and deadlines associated with them to avoid gaps in compliance. Keep in mind, some processes that are otherwise exempt from permitting may still be subject to these federal rules, so just because you don’t have a permit in-hand doesn’t necessarily mean you don’t have other compliance obligations.

Do you have new data to work with?

Have you conducted stack testing in the last year that may affect the emission factors you use in your emissions reporting? Have updated emission factors been published that may affect a process at your facility? Have you installed or modified air emissions sources or control equipment in the last year? Did supply chain issues cause your facility to change any raw material inputs that may affect the type or quantity of your air emissions? Be sure to account for any changes to your processes and emissions, and always compare your data against previous years to identify any red flags or inconsistencies.

Is your emissions inventory up to date?

One of our most common recommendations to clients is to maintain and regularly update their facility-wide air emissions inventory. These inventories are vital to determining permitting and regulatory applicability and should be consistently updated as changes take place at your facility. If you don’t have an emissions inventory, consider developing one. These inventories not only help facilities identify whether they are major sources of air pollutants but can also assist with determining the applicability of various state and federal regulations or permitting exemptions. They are also commonly requested during regulatory inspections and are a valuable tool for demonstrating compliance.

Is your air compliance recordkeeping complete?

Tracking down last year’s records and other information required for air compliance and reporting may require you to contact several departments within your company, hunt down paper records, or scratch your head while discovering missing links in your Excel spreadsheets. Leaving “breadcrumbs” by keeping thorough documentation of your data sources and assumptions is key to ensuring consistent, reliable recordkeeping. Establishing an internal reporting system and having a central database for all your air data can help you not only streamline your recordkeeping and reporting processes but will ensure the integrity of your data. Also keep in mind that, even if your facility or a specific process doesn’t require an air permit, it may still have recordkeeping and reporting obligations under state and federal regulations. Often, some permit exemptions require detailed recordkeeping as well.

When was your last regulatory air inspection?

Many state regulatory agencies maintain a regular inspection frequency, so you may have a good idea of when your next air inspection will take place. More often than not, however, state and federal inspections are unannounced. Take the steps above to verify all of your recordkeeping and reporting are accounted for and up to date. If your facility had any inspections last year, make sure any required responses or corrective actions have been completed and implemented. Third-party audits or mock inspections are also a great proactive compliance strategy for ensuring your facility is inspection ready.

What is on the horizon?

Do you have any upcoming projects that may require an air permitting or regulatory evaluation? Maintain open communication with decision-makers at your facility and stay in the loop when it comes to capital expenditures that may trigger air permitting or regulatory requirements. Updates to your air permits need to be made before adding, modifying, or replacing emission sources, so staying on top of these projects is imperative.

In addition to tracking changes at your facility, stay informed of changes to state and federal air regulations as well. Use resources such as conferences, webinars, trade groups, and consultants to stay tuned in to the ever-changing air regulations. Subscribe to US EPA’s news releases (Email Subscriptions for EPA News Releases | US EPA) and keep tabs on any upcoming federal rulemaking that may affect your industry or facility. Many state regulatory agencies offer email subscriptions for regulatory updates and announcements as well.

For facility-specific questions, please reach out to Katie Milk.



Related Posts