Types of Air Permits

General Permits

General permits are permits that are developed (through a regulatory development process) for specific source categories that have similar pieces of equipment and similar control requirements. Like minor new source review (NSR) permitting, general permits are for facilities that will emit regulated air pollutants above the exemption thresholds listed in 9VAC5-80-1105 of state regulations but less than 100 tons per year (9VAC5, Chapter 80, Article 6. The permit must be obtained before any activity on the project can begin. The facility has the option of getting a general permit or going through the regular minor NSR permitting process.

Virginia has four general permits:

  1. The Non-Metallic Mineral Processing General Permit
  2. The Biomass Pilot Test Facility General Permit
  3. The Voluntary Demand Response Generator General Permit
  4. The Emergency Generator General Permit

More About General Permits

Major New Source Review (NSR) Permits

Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) Permit

PSD permits are required by any major new source that is being constructed and any modification to an existing major source.  PSD permitting requirements may also be triggered if an existing minor source makes a modification that results in the facility becoming major.  A major source is any source with the potential to emit over 250 tons per year (tpy) of a single criteria pollutant or is in one of the listed source categories under 9VAC5-80-1615  and has the potential to emit over 100 tpy of any criteria pollutant. In addition, any source that has the potential to emit over 100,000 tpy of CO2 equivalent (CO2e) is also considered a major source (9VAC5-85 Part IIl).  PSD permits are issued in areas that are in attainment of the National Ambient Air Quality Standards. The PSD permit requires the source to perform an air quality analysis and to install Best Available Control Technology (BACT).

Nonattainment Permit

Nonattainment permits are required by any major new source that is being constructed in a nonattainment area and is major for the pollutant for which the area is in nonattainment. Nonattainment permitting requirements may also be triggered if an existing minor source makes a modification that results in the facility being major for the pollutant for which the area is in nonattainment.  A major source is any source with potential to emit over 250 tpy of a single criteria pollutant or is in one of the listed source categories under 9VAC5-80-2010 and the potential to emit over 100 tpy of any criteria pollutant.  However, if any area is in nonattainment for a specific pollutant, the major source threshold may be lower for that pollutant.  For example, sources locating in the Northern Virginia Ozone Nonattainment Area which are part of the Ozone Transport Region would be a major source if they have the potential to emit more than 100 tpy of NOx and/or 50 tpy of VOC regardless of source category.  Nonattainment permits do not require an air quality analysis but require a source to control to the Lowest Achievable Emission Rate (LAER) and to obtain offsets.

More About Major New Source Review (NSR) Permits

State Operating Permits

SOPs are most often used by stationary sources to establish federally enforceable limits on potential to emit to avoid major New Source Review permitting (PSD and Nonattainment permits), Title V permitting, and/or major source MACT applicability. When a source chooses to use a SOP to limit their emissions below major source permitting thresholds, it is commonly referred to as a “synthetic minor” source. SOPs can also be used to combine multiple permits from a stationary source into one permit or to implement emissions trading requirements.

The State Air Pollution Control Board, at its discretion, may also issue SOPs to cap the emissions of a stationary source or emissions unit causing or contributing to a violation of any air quality standard or to establish a source-specific emission standard or other requirement necessary to implement the federal Clean Air Act or the Virginia Air Pollution Control Law.

More About State Operating Permits

New and Reconstructed Major Sources of Hazardous Air Pollutants (Article 7 Permit)

 An Article 7 permit is a preconstruction review permit (case-by-case Maximum Achievable Control Technology (MACT) determination) for the construction or reconstruction of any stationary source or emission unit that has the potential to emit considering controls 10 tons per year or more of any individual hazardous air pollutant (HAP) or 25 tons per year or more of any combination of HAPs unless the stationary source or emission unit is regulated by a MACT standard or the stationary source is within a source category that has been deleted from the source category list. HAP is any air pollutant listed in § 112(b) of the federal Clean Air Act, as amended by 40 CFR 63.60. If a permit is required, it must be obtained before any activity on the project can begin.

More About Article 7 Permits

Federal Operating Permits

Facilities which have the potential to emit air pollutants above the major source thresholds, listed in 9VAC5-80-60, or area sources of hazardous air pollutants, not explicitly exempted by EPA, are required to obtain a Title V Operating Permit (Title V). A list of area sources either specifically required or exempted from obtaining a Title V permit is maintained by EPA and is located here. Sources which have already been constructed (existing sources) with a potential to emit greater than major source thresholds should already have a Title V permit. Sources which are being constructed or will be constructed (new sources) and have a potential to emit greater than major source thresholds must submit applications, within 12 months of commencing operation. Sources which have taken a federally enforceable emission limit to avoid Title V (synthetic minor sources) may become subject to Title V from increased production, or the installation of new emission units. A facility may also become applicable to the Title V permitting requirements from an expansion of non-attainment areas. A non-attainment area designation of Severe or Serious has a lower major stationary source threshold for Title V applicability for specific pollutants for which the area is non-attainment. As a result, more sources may be required to have Title V permits.

It is possible for a Title V source to become non-Title V be taking federally enforceable limits on the pollutants for which the source is major. Taking a federally enforceable limit on pollutants may be an option for a source to consider if emissions have decreased to below major source thresholds.

More About Federal Operating Permits

Minor New Source Review (NSR) Permits

The majority of permits issued in Virginia are minor new source review (NSR) permits.  The minor NSR permit program applies to the construction of any new stationary source or any project (which includes any addition or replacement of an emissions unit, any modification to an emissions unit or any combination of these changes) that will emit regulated air pollutants above the exemption thresholds listed in 9 VAC 5-80-1105 C or D of state regulations (9 VAC 5, Chapter 80, Article 6).  Minor NSR permits are for facilities that emit less than 100 tons per year of any criteria pollutant (PM, PM-10, PM 2.5, CO, NOX, SO2, and VOC) and for facilities that emit toxic pollutants more than state toxic exemption levels but less than 10 tons per year of one toxic pollutant or 25 tons per year of a combination of toxics pollutants.  If a permit is required, it must be obtained before any activity on the project can begin.

Minor NSR permits can also be used to limit the emissions of a facility below major stationary source thresholds by limiting the uncontrolled emission rate of regulated air pollutants with practically and federally enforceable permit conditions.

More About Minor NSR Permits

State Major Permits

Title V major facilities that are not Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) facilities are commonly referred to as “state majors”. State major facilities are facilities that emit more than 100 tons per year, but less than 250 tons per year, of any criteria pollutant (PM, PM-10, PM 2.5, CO, NOX, SO2, and VOC) and are not listed in the 28 categories under “major stationary source” as defined in 9VAC5-80-1615. State major permits are issued through the same regulations as minor NSR permits (i.e. Article 6) and must be obtained before any activity on an applicable project can begin.

State major permits can be used to keep a facility below the PSD major stationary source thresholds by establishing practically and federally enforceable permit conditions that limit a facility’s uncontrolled emissions.

More About State Major Permits

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Virginia Department of
Environmental Quality
P.O. Box 1105
Richmond, VA 23218
(804) 698-4000


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