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Pennsylvania Air Quality Permit for Construction Activities (15-PA-a(1))

Information current as of 2020
In Pennsylvania, a developer may need a General Permit 11 from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, Bureau of Air Quality to construct or operate (e.g., use during construction activities) compression-ignition nonroad engine(s) that are specified in 40 C.F.R. § 89.1 and qualify as nonroad engine(s) as per the definitions set forth in 40 C.F.R. § 85.1602 and 40 C.F.R. § 89.2. Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection – Conditions for Nonroad Engine(s) Permit (GP-11).


A developer engaged in certain construction activities must also comply with DEP’s fugitive rules, including, but not limited to:

  • Construction or demolition of buildings or structures;
  • Grading, paving and maintenance of roads and streets;
  • Use of roads and streets;
  • Clearing of land; and
  • Stockpiling of materials.

25 Pa. Code § 123.1(a).

A developer responsible for any of the above sources or any other source listed in 25 Pa. Code § 123.1(a) must take all reasonable actions to prevent particulate matter from becoming airborne and comply with the prohibitions contained in 25 Pa. Code § 123.2. 25 Pa. Code § 123.1(c).

Important definitions include:

  • Air contamination source means “any place, facility or equipment, stationary or mobile, at, from or by reason of which there is emitted into the outdoor atmosphere any air contaminant. 25 Pa. Code § 121.1.
  • Fugitive air contaminant means “an air contaminant of the outdoor atmosphere not emitted through a flue, including, but not limited to, industrial process losses, stockpile losses, re-entrained dust and construction/demolition activities.” 25 Pa. Code § 121.1.
  • Construction means “to physically initiate assemblage, installation, erection or fabrication of an air contamination source or an air pollution control device, including building supports and foundations and other support functions.” 25 Pa. Code § 121.1.
  • General plan approval means “a plan approval issued for a category of stationary air contamination sources that the Department determines are similar in nature and that can be adequately regulated using standardized specifications and conditions.” 25 Pa. Code § 121.1.


The DEP regulates air quality emissions pursuant to its approved State Implementation Plans, the Pennsylvania Air Pollution Control Act, and regulations contained in 25 Pa. Code §§ 121.1–145.223.

Note: If a developer’s project extends into the City of Philadelphia or Allegheny County, the developer should consult the Philadelphia Air Management Services (PAMS) or the Allegheny County Health Department (ACHD), respectively. PAMS and ACHD have their own permitting programs, and the developer must apply for applicable permits with those programs. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency – Clean Air Act Permitting in Pennsylvania.



Air Quality Permit for Construction Activities Process


15-PA-a.1 – Consult Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the Air Resources Rules

The developer should consult DEP and 25 Pa. Code §§ 127.1–802 to determine if the project qualifies for General Permit 11 under 25 Pa. Code § 127.601–42.

15-PA-a.2 – Application for General Permit 11

The developer must submit an Application for General Permit 11, on the form provided by DEP, with any supporting documents and fees, to the DEP regional office serving the area in which the nonroad engine is, or will be, located. Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection – How to Complete a Plan Approval Application to Construct, Modify or Reactivate an Air Contamination Source and/or Install an Air Cleaning Device Guide. The form for General Permit 11, covering nonroad engines, is available at Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection – Conditions for Nonroad Engine(s) Permit (GP-11). The Application must be hand delivered, transmitted by certified mail return receipt requested, or submitted electronically through the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection – GreenPort website. 25 Pa. Code § 127.621(b).

15-PA-a.3 – Provide Notice to Municipality and County

The applicant (developer) must provide written notice of the proposed project and pollution source to the applicable municipality and county where the pollution source will be located at the same time the developer submits an Application for General Permit 11 (Application) to DEP. 25 Pa. Code § 127.43a. Notice must include the following:

  • A statement that the developer has submitted an application to DEP;
  • A detailed description of the source and modifications that the developer plans to make;
  • A statement that a 30-day comment period begins when the municipality and county receive the notice.

Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection – How to Complete a Plan Approval Application to Construct, Modify or Reactivate an Air Contamination Source and/or Install an Air Cleaning Device Guide.

15-PA-a.4 – Review Application for Approval

DEP must review the Application and take action within 30 days of receipt. 25 Pa. Code § 127.621(c).

15-PA-a.5 to 15-PA-a.6 – Is the Application Approved?

If DEP denies the Application, DEP must provide written notice of the denial to applicant (developer) and all requestors in accordance with 25 Pa. Code § 127.13c.

15-PA-a.7 – General Permit 11

If DEP approves the Application, General Permit 11 is issued for a term of 5 years. Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection – Conditions for Nonroad Engine(s) Permit (GP-11). DEP will notify the applicant (developer) by letter when authority to operate under General Permit 11 is granted. Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection – Conditions for Nonroad Engine(s) Permit (GP-11).

15-PA-a.8 – Appeal Decision (Optional)

Any person may appeal DEP’s permitting decision to the Pennsylvania Environmental Hearing Board within 30 days of DEP’s issuing its decision. 25 Pa. Code § 127.46(b).

A protest must include the following:

  • Name, address and telephone number of the person filing the protest.
  • Identification of the proposed plan approval issuance being opposed.
  • Concise statement of the objections to the plan approval issuance and the relevant facts upon which the objections are based.

25 Pa. Code § 127.46(b).


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