Preconstruction Permitting Federal New Source Review Permits

Federal nonattainment NSR, like PSD, is normally implemented under EPA-approved state regulations with EPA oversight. Nonattainment NSR applies to new major sources of the nonattainment pollutants or pollutant precursors in the nonattainment area and major modifications (with significant net increases) at major sources of those pollutants. The analytical methods used to make these determinations are similar to those under PSD. Major source thresholds, however, are lower and vary with the severity of the nonattainment classification. Those thresholds are shown in Table 16-3.

The permitting process is similar to the process for PSD in several ways. The permit applicant may not, however, have to do extensive air quality modeling and the issue of baseline ambient monitoring does not arise. The control technology determination is somewhat different, as described below, but the applicant is still responsible for doing the necessary investigation and analysis of control alternatives. Lastly, as with PSD, a federal nonattainment NSR permit must go through a formal public review process.

The three key requirements associated with federal nonattainment NSR are:

1. The new facility or equipment use air emissions controls that meet the definition of the Lowest Achievable Emissions Rate (LAER).

2. The increase in air emissions is offset by reductions in actual emissions from other sources in the immediate area of air quality impact. 3. The source owner certifies that all other major sources in the state that are under the owner's control are in compliance with all requirements of the Act.

Lowest Achievable Emissions Rate (LAER)

EPA regulations define LAER as, "...that rate of emissions which reflects:

A. The most stringent emissions limitation which is contained in the implementation plan of any State for such class or category of source, unless the owner or operator of the proposed source demonstrates that such limitations are not achievable, or

B. The most stringent emissions limitation which is achieved in practice by such class or category of source, whichever is more stringent."


"In no event shall the application of this term permit a proposed new or modified source to emit any pollutant in excess of the amount allowable under applicable new source standards of performance."

The key distinction between BACT and LAER is that BACT takes into consideration cost and other environmental impacts while LAER does not. Therefore, LAER is nearly always more stringent or as stringent as BACT. As with BACT, technical feasibility and reliability are considered in a LAER determination.


Offset requirements are often impediments to a nonattainment area project. Offsetting emissions must be based on actual emissions. They must go beyond control

Table 16-3 Major Source and

Modification Thresholds

for Nonattainment Areas

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