Air Permit Processes

Latest News: 

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is holding a public hearing on the rule on April 17, 2019, with written comments due April 24.

Next Step:

After the public hearing, DNR will finalize the rule and submit it to Gov. Tony Evers for approval.


This proposed rule would update Wisconsin DNR rules related to air permitting processes in Wis. Admin. Code NR 406 and 407. The rulemaking includes provisions to:

  • Require reconstruction to apply not only to standard stationary sources but also to minor and indirect sources.
  • Create construction and operation permit exemptions for external combustion furnaces burning ultra-low sulfur distillate fuel oil.
  • Create additional exemptions for the incineration of confiscated drugs.
  • Implement an electronic reporting system.
  • Clarify that the stationary source permit program applies to non-road restricted use reciprocating internal combustion engines.
  • Revise the list of activities that do not constitute commencing construction for purposes of minor source construction permits, in accordance with the federal Environmental Protection Agency’s state implementation plan requirements.
  • Allow facilities with economic or financial hardship to apply for minor source construction waivers, even if the hardship does not “preclude the project in its entirety” as required by current rules.
  • Restrict sources in certain circumstances from obtaining exemptions if they have already commenced construction.
  • Clarify that increasing hours of operation is not an exclusion from modification if the increase is subject to certain federal requirements.
  • Clarify that only typographical errors that have no material effect on a permit may be corrected administratively. All other revisions must undergo the public notice and comment requirements.
  • Include additional exemptions in the list of exemptions that must maintain records.

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. Walker’s administration approved and worked on.

  • State law says DNR may issue a Clean Air Act permit if the air pollution source does not “cause or exacerbate” the violation of an ambient air quality standard. For several years, including under the scope statement for this rule, DNR has examined how to define “cause or exacerbate” for permitting purposes. However, in this rulemaking package, DNR is declining to define “cause or exacerbate.”
  • DNR is also declining to define “shutdown” for the purposes of shutdowns of facilities so that they no longer need permits. The current definition of “shutdown” is “the cessation of operation of a direct or portable source or of emission control equipment” (NR 400.02(144)).
  • Additionally, DNR is declining to create a procedure to administratively revise construction permits. According to DNR, the underlying statutes do not allow revision of construction permits without notice.

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.”



April 17, 2019 Public hearing.
Written comments due April 24.
March 5, 2019 Submitted to Legislative Council.
January 31, 2013 Scope statement published.
December 28, 2012 Gov. Walker approved scope statement.
Note that scope statement expiration does not apply because the scope statement was approved prior to 2017 Act 39.


Administration Documents

Clearinghouse Rule 19-015

Rule text

Economic impact analysis


Hamilton Resources

DNR Proposes Changes to Air Permit Processes March 22, 2019