Paints & Coatings Resource Center

Operating Permits

Before 1990, a facility generally needed a permit for construction or significant modification of operations which would be sources of air emissions, but needed nothing further to begin operations. That changed with the passage of the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990 (CAAA). Major sources of air emissions are now required to obtain an operating permit, which must be renewed every five years. (A "major source" as defined in Section 112 of the Clean Air Act is any facility that has the potential to emit ten tons per year of any one regulated pollutant, or 25 tons of any combination.)

In general, states have developed their own rules governing their operating permit programs. However, all state programs must meet some basic requirements. The CAAA requires that operating permits cover the following basic points among others:

  • they must be renewed at least every five years
  • they must assure compliance with the CAAA, and with state rules
  • they must contain a compliance schedule
  • they must spell out monitoring, recordkeeping, and reporting requirements that will assure compliance

To obtain an operating permit, operators of a facility must first determine which regulatory agency has authority for the area in which the facility is located. This may depend not only on the state in which the facility is located, but on the specific region within the state. Some information may be found from the State Regulations Locator, which includes both brief descriptions of the environmentral regulatory agencies in each state, and contact information for compliance assistance providers.

You can get more information on operating permits from the Office of Air Quality Planning and Standards (OAQPS) at EPA.

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