DNR Proposes Changes to Air Permit Processes

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is currently promulgating rules that would update DNR code related to air permitting processes (Wis. Admin. Code NR 406 and 407).  The rulemaking includes provisions to create some additional permit exemptions, implement electronic reporting, clarify certain types of activity to which permits apply, and restrict administrative corrections to permits, among other provisions.

In addition to what the rulemaking does propose, it is notable what DNR is choosing not to regulate under the scope statement that former Gov. Scott Walker’s administration approved and worked on. DNR is declining to define “cause or exacerbate” for the purpose of determining whether an air pollution source is in violation of an ambient air quality standard, thereby leaving in place broad authority to deny permits under the Clean Air Act. DNR is also declining to define “shutdown” for the purposes of shutdowns of facilities so that they no longer need permits and to create a procedure to administratively revise construction permits.

Previous rulemaking by the Walker administration under this scope statement created an exemption from operation permitting for natural minor sources, aligned state regulations with federal engine testing requirements, changed permit exemptions for emergency generators to include emergency fire pumps, and excluded certain activities from the definition of “commerce construction.”

DNR is holding a public hearing on the rule on April 17, 2019, with written comments due April 24. After the public hearing, DNR will finalize the rule and submit it to Gov. Tony Evers for approval.

For more information on specific provisions in the proposed rules, visit Hamilton Consulting Group’s Air Permit Processes administrative rule page.