The Federal Clean Air Act sets standards for maximum pollutant levels. Each state has an implementation plan to reach those levels, with different Air Quality Management Districts (AQMD) responsible for pollution levels within a clearly defined geographic area. AQMDs are responsible for the enforcement of control regulations and implementation of creative methods to help cut pollution. Understanding, adhering to, and demonstrating your knowledge of AQMD compliance is critical for all parties involved in your business, from the community your business operates in, to the owners and employees, to your customers. Here’s a look at the ins and outs of AQMD compliance:
Public Hearings Allow Input on Proposed Laws
Individuals and corporations concerned about the effect a proposed law will have on their particular situation have the opportunity to comment at a series of public workshops and hearings. Workshops are less formal occasions where the public has a greater opportunity to voice opposition or support of a proposed law. A final public hearing precedes a vote by the AQMD board.
Classes Provide Clear Understanding of Compliance Requirements
AQMDs provide compliance classes so company environmental officers can have a complete understanding of how certain laws affect their industry. The classes cover all applicable rules and permit requirements. An AQMD speaker’s bureau also provides experts who will come to your company or civic group and address pre-arranged topics of concern. AQMD’s public information center is a great place to stay on top of proposed new laws and industry trends that will help your business stay ahead of the environmental regulation curve.
Follow the Permitting Process
The two most common permits issued by the AQMD are the Permit to Operate (PO) and Permit to Construct (PC). As their names imply, you must get a PC before either installing new equipment or moving existing equipment to a new location. A PO is necessary before you can turn the new equipment on. Application forms and instructions for all permits are available on the AQMD website. You must submit all applicable fees at the time you file the permit for approval.
Hearing Board has Authority to Grant Variances
If you can show good reason as to why your company should not have to adhere to a particular regulation, the AQMD Hearing Board has the power to grant a variance. The board is made up of an independent group of industry professionals appointed by AQMD. Along with considering variances, the hearing board also considers abatement orders, appeals from companies denied a permit, and third party appeals. Although the hearing board can grant a variance, it cannot modify rules, review violation notices, or grant a variance from compliance with a public nuisance law.
Online Tools Assist in Reporting Process
Some AQMDs have web-based tools that cut down the paperwork involved in reporting emissions, applying for permits and calculating fees. The Facility Information Detail (FIND) tool for the South Coast AQMD provides links to public information about regulated facilities within the district’s boundaries. The Flare Emission Notification System helps refineries and similar facilities report when an event is expected to exceed a particular emission threshold.
Advisory Group Membership Provides Insider Knowledge
One of the best ways to stay informed on the workings of a local AQMD is to join one of the many advisory groups that play a major role in the implementation of new rules. The Air Quality Management Plan Advisory Group consists of members from all walks of life, including large and small businesses and government agencies. Attending AQMD public hearings and regular meetings is the best way to become known and receive an appointment to a working group.