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Washington Air Quality Permit - Operating Permit (15-WA-b)

This flowchart illustrates the process for obtaining an Air Operating Permit in Washington State. The Washington State Department of Ecology (WSDE) issues Air Operating Permit under WAC 173-401.

An Air Operating Permit is required if a facility has the potential to emit any of the following:

  • More than 100 tons per year of any pollutant;
  • More than 10 tons per year of any hazardous air pollutant; or
  • More than 25 tons per year of a combination of hazardous air pollutants.

Air Quality Permit - Operating Permit Process

15-WA-b.1 – Air Operating Permit Application and Attachments

The developer is required to submit an application for an Air Operating Permit within 12 months of becoming subject to the permit program.

The developer must provide all necessary information in the application, including a form with detailed emissions information. The standard application must include the following:

  • Identifying information, including company name and address, owner’s name and agent, responsible official name and address, and telephone number and names of plant site manager/contact;
  • A description of the source’s processes and products including any associated with each alternative operating scenario identified by the source pursuant to WAC 173-401-650; and
  • All emissions-related information provided in WAC 173-401-510(2)(c).

Certain units and activities are categorically exempt from being included in the Air Operating Permit application. The activities listed in WAC 173-401-532 may be omitted from the permit application. WAC 173-401-532.

15-WA-b.2 – Publish Notice of Receipt of Application

The WSDE must publish a notice that the agency has received an application. WAC 173-401-500(9). The WSDE must provide notice in the newspaper of largest general circulation in the area of the facility applying for the permit. The WSDE will also publish this notice in the Air Operating Permit Register. WAC 173-401-805(1).

15-WA-b.3 – Review Application Materials for Completeness

The WSDE has 60 days to determine whether an application is complete, and may request further information.

15-WA-b.4 – Is the Application Complete?

The WSDE may request further information for an application. If the developer fails to submit any relevant facts or submits incorrect information in a permit application, then the developer must submit such information. Any notification of incompleteness must specify the information needed to make the application complete and prescribe a reasonable time frame for response from the developer. WAC 173-401-500(4).

Once the application is determined to be complete, the developer may operate the facility through the permitting process. WAC 173-401-705(2). The facility may be operational until the permit is approved, but must cease if the permit is rejected.

15-WA-b.6 – Draft Air Operating Permit

The WSDE will develop a draft Air Operating Permit after the application is determined to be complete.

15-WA-b.7 – Provide Notice of Draft Air Operating Permit

The WSDE must provide notice to the public of the availability of a Draft Air Operating Permit. WAC 173-401-800(2)(a)(i). The WSDE must provide the public notice in the newspaper of largest general circulation in the area of the facility applying for a permit. Publication includes paid advertisement, legal notice, or other appropriate format. The WSDE must also publish the notice in the Permit Register. WAC 173-401-800(2)(b).

15-WA-b.8 – Comment on Draft Air Operating Permit

The WSDE will allow for public comment on the Draft Air Operating Permit for 30 days. The comment period begins on the date WSDE publishes the notice in the Ecology Permit Register. WAC 173-401-800(3).

15-WA-b.9 – Is there a Request for a Public Hearing?

The developer, any interested governmental entity, any group or any person may request a public hearing within the comment period. The request for a public hearing must indicate the interest of the entity filing it and why a hearing is warranted. WAC 173-401-800(4).

15-WA-b.10 – Provide Notice of Public Hearing

The WSDE must provide at least 30 days prior notice of any public hearing. WAC 173-401-800(4).

15-WA-b.11 – Hold Public Hearing

The WSDE will hold the public hearing after notice is provided if it determines that significant public interest exists. WAC 173-401-800(4). The WSDE must keep a record of the commenters and issues raised during the public participation and hearing process. WAC 173-401-800(5).

15-WA-b.12 – Proposed Air Operating Permit

The WSDE will consider comments brought up in the public hearing, and issue a Proposed Air Operating Permit.

15-WA-b.13 – Review Draft Air Operating Permit

The WSDE must forward the Proposed Air Operating Permit to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for review. WAC 173-401-810.

15-WA-b.14 – Review Comments from the EPA

The DECY is required to consider comments on the permit from the EPA before issuing the final permit or rejecting the application. WAC 173-401-810.

15-WA-b.15 to 15-WA-b.16 – Does the DECY Approve the Proposed Permit?

The WSDE may choose to accept the permit following review of the EPA’s comments. If the WSDE rejects the permit application, then the developer may choose to appeal the final decision to the Washington Pollution Control Hearing Board (PCHB). WAC 173-401-735. The developer may also choose to petition the final decision to the EPA.

15-WA-b.17 – Final Air Operating Permit

Air Operating Permits are for a fixed term of five years. WAC 173-401-610. The developer will be required to pay an annual fee to the WSDE for the Air Operating Permit. The developer will also be required to comply with annual reporting of emissions.

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