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Air Quality Program

Air Operating Permit

The federal Clean Air Act requires all states to issue an air operating permit for businesses and industries that are the largest sources of air pollution. An air operating permit contains all the requirements that apply to an air pollution source. Ecology, the Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council (EFSEC), and local clean air agencies have received EPA approval to administer Washington’s air operating permit program.

This page is intended for air pollution sources and regulators. For general information about air operating permits, see Washington’s Air Operating Permit Program.


About the Air Operating Permit Program

Title V of the federal Clean Air Act requires states to develop and implement an air operating permit program in accordance with 40 CFR Part 70 for facilities that are the largest sources of air pollution. These operating permits are often referred to as Air Operating Permits (AOPs), Title V Permits, or Part 70 Permits. They combine into one document requirements for operations, procedures, applicable regulations, emissions standards, monitoring, recordkeeping, and reporting. The purpose of the air operating permit is to make it easier to comply with and enforce air pollution laws.

Washington’s (Air) Operating Permit Regulation is in Chapter 173-401 Washington Administrative Code (WAC). The regulation requires a facility to have an air operating permit if it has the potential to emit any of the following:

  • more than 100 tons per year of any pollutant, such as nitrogen oxides (NOx), volatile organic compounds (VOCs), carbon monoxide (CO), sulfur dioxide (SO2), and particulate matter (PM). Lower thresholds may apply in nonattainment areas;
  • more than 10 tons per year of any hazardous air pollutant (HAP), as listed in subsection 112(b) of the federal Clean Air Act; or
  • more than 25 tons per year of a combination of any HAPs.

A facility may also be required to have an air operating permit if it is subject to certain federal air quality requirements, including:

  • Title IV Acid Rain Program;
  • New Source Performance Standards (NSPS); or
  • National Emission Standard for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP).

For more information about Washington’s AOP Program, refer to:

Air Operating Permit Sources and Permitting Agencies

Agencies with authority to issue air operating permits in Washington are:

  • Ecology, including:
    o three regional offices,
    o Industrial Section which works statewide with pulp and paper mills and aluminum smelters, and
    o Nuclear Waste Program at Hanford;
  • seven local clean air agencies;
  • Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council (EFSEC); and
  • EPA.

The table below provides links to air operating permits issued by each agency.

Regulatory Agency Jurisdiction (counties) Location/Phone
Benton Clean Air Agency Benton Kennewick
(509) 783-1304
Ecology Central Regional Office Chelan, Douglas, Kittitas, Klickitat, and Okanogan Yakima
(509) 575-2490
Ecology Eastern Regional Office Adams, Asotin, Columbia, Ferry, Franklin, Garfield, Grant, Lincoln, Pend Oreille, Stevens, Walla Walla, and Whitman Spokane
(509) 329-3400
Ecology Northwest Regional Office San Juan County Bellevue
(425) 649-7000
Ecology Industrial Section pulp and paper mills, aluminum smelters statewide Olympia
(360) 407-6916
Ecology Nuclear Waste Program Hanford Reservation Richland
(509) 372-7950
Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council (EFSEC) major energy facilities statewide Olympia
(360) 956-2121
EPA Region 10 tribal lands in Idaho, Oregon, Washington Seattle
 (206) 553-8087
Northwest Clean Air Agency Island, Skagit, and Whatcom Mt. Vernon
(360) 428-1617
Olympic Region Clean Air Agency Clallam, Grays Harbor, Jefferson, Mason, Pacific, and Thurston Olympia
 (360) 586-1044
Puget Sound Clean Air Agency King, Kitsap, Pierce, and Snohomish Seattle
 (206) 343-8800
Southwest Clean Air Agency Clark, Cowlitz, Lewis, Skamania, and Wahkiakum Vancouver
(360) 574-3058
Spokane Regional Clean Air Agency Spokane Spokane
(509) 477-4727
Yakima Regional Clean Air Agency Yakima Yakima
(509) 834-2050


Air Operating Permit Application Materials

Ecology, EFSEC, and local clean air agencies process air operating permit applications for facilities in their jurisdictions. Facilities must submit an application within 12 months of becoming subject to the air operating permit program. Permits are issued for 5 years. An application to renew a permit is due 6 to 18 months before the permit expires.

For an air operating permit application for facilities in Ecology’s jurisdiction, refer to:

Air Operating Permit Budget

EPA requires Ecology, EFSEC, and local clean air agencies to fund their air operating permit programs by collecting fees from facilities subject to the program. The fees collected must be sufficient to cover the costs of developing and administering the program. Ecology, EFSEC, and local clean air agencies each have air operating permit fee schedules in their respective rules.

Ecology determines its air operating permit fees based on a workload analysis and budget prepared each biennium. The analysis identifies permit administration activities needed to issue and oversee air operating permits at facilities under Ecology’s jurisdiction. It also identifies activities associated with development and oversight of the statewide air operating permit program for the biennium.

From this workload analysis, Ecology prepares a budget projection for the biennium (2-year cycle). This projection covers the entire cost of the program activities identified in the analysis. Ecology publishes a notice in the Air Operating Permit Register that the draft biennial workload analysis and budget is available for public comment. Comments on the draft can be submitted for 60 days after the publishing date. After the public comment period, Ecology finalizes the workload analysis and budget.

At the end of the fiscal year (July 1 - June 30), Ecology prepares a report summarizing the air operating permit program.

Air Operating Permit Fees

Air Operating Permit Administration - Ecology calculates air operating permit administration fees using a three-tiered structure that accounts for:

  • number of facilities with air operating permits in Ecology’s jurisdiction,
  • complexity of the air operating permit facility, and
  • actual air emissions from the facility.

Air Operating Program Development and Oversight - Air operating permit program development and oversight fees are distributed to each permitting agency based on the number of air operating permit sources in their jurisdiction. Ecology collects this fee from air operating permit sources in its jurisdiction as part of the three-tiered structure described above. Local clean air agencies collect the development and oversight fee from facilities in their jurisdictions, and pass it on to Ecology.

Ecology publishes the current fiscal year’s fee schedule by October 31 in the Air Operating Permit Register.

Air Operating Permit Register

Ecology maintains an Air Operating Permit Register, which is updated on the 10th and 25th (or on the nearest business day) of each month. This register includes notices of air operating permit actions or program changes, and provides an opportunity for public comment.

Air operating permit actions include:

  • draft or final permit,
  • permit changes, and
  • scheduled hearings and public meetings.

Air operating permit program changes include:

  • draft workload analysis,
  • draft budget, and
  • fee schedule.

For more information about the action(s) published in the Air Operating Permit Register, contact Ecology, EFSEC, or the local clean air agency with jurisdiction.

Air Operating Permit Program Accountability

Washington’s air operating permit program undergoes frequent fiscal and performance audits. Every two years, the State Auditor’s Office conducts fiscal audits of Ecology's and each local clean air agency's air operating permit program. These audits focus on:

  • computation of fees and revenue collected,
  • timeliness of invoicing, billing, and collection,
  • accounting practices for fee revenues and expenditures, and
  • use of collected fees.

See Ecology's FY 2010 AOP Fiscal Report.

Performance audits of Ecology’s and each local clean air agency’s air operating permit program are conducted yearly.  They include:

  • routine performance audits
  • random individual permit reviews

A performance audit report is compiled with specific information from the reviews of Ecology’s and each local clean air agency’s air operating permit programs.

In addition, EPA periodically reviews Ecology’s, EFSEC’s, and local clean air agency’s air operating permit programs. These reviews allow EPA to identify recommendations for improvement, and ensure fair, consistent enforcement and compliance programs statewide.

Results of EPA’s most recent evaluation of the permit writing portion of the air operating permit program (program review) can be found here. Results of EPA’s evaluation of the compliance and enforcement portion of the air operating permit program (state review framework) can be found here.

EPA has completed the second state review framework.

For more information

Contact the appropriate clean air agency for your area.

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