Learn about the air permits in New Jersey that impact your business.
Understanding environmental regulations in New Jersey can be a daunting task. One of the most common things our customers ask us about is the various air permits New Jersey operations can seek coverage under. From confusing regulatory language to various types of air permits in New Jersey, it's no wonder that many need to turn to experts for guidance during the air permitting process.
Sound familiar? Well, if you're wondering what air permits are, if they apply to your facility or operation, and want to learn more about them to stay in compliance and out of trouble, you've come to the right place. We've put together 22+ questions that we routinely hear when it comes to the confusing world of New Jersey's air permits. So, let's dive in and shed some light on the subject.
1. What is an air permit in New Jersey?
First off, let's explain what New Jersey air permits are.
The technical answer is an air permit in the State of New Jersey is a legal document that gives an individual or facility the authority to emit potentially hazardous pollutants into the air for either industrial or commercial means. These documents (permits) are issued and enforced by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) and are modeled off of the Federal government's Clean Air Act’s New Source Review (NSR) permits. NSR Permits require facilities to install modern pollution control equipment upon construction or modification of the facility. These permits identify whether a facility is a major or minor facility (more on that in a moment).
Long story short, air permits allow your operation in New Jersey to pollute under certain conditions, in accordance with rules and regulations initially set forth by the Federal government, and then revised and made specific to New Jersey by the NJDEP. The purpose of air permits in New Jersey is to ensure that facilities across the Garden State do not emit pollutants that could pose an environmental threat or adverse health risk to people.
For a deeper dive on the subject, check out our article WHAT
2. Who needs an air permit in New Jersey and how do I know which one to get?
An air permit is required for any operation in New Jersey, industrial or commercial, that uses equipment that releases air pollutants. Plain and simple. The NJDEP refers to these types of equipment, operations, and processes that can release air pollutants as “sources”. Depending on what pollutants are released, and in what quantity, would determine which type of permit you need.
Some common types of equipment and/or businesses in New Jersey that would require an air permit are:
- Various types of venting equipment used at recycling or solid waste facilities, such as recycling operations, transfer stations, construction and demolition jobs, and even hard drive shredders at electronic recycling operations!
- Certain engines used for generating electricity, not including emergency generators. Think large generators used on construction sites, remote facilities, or operations that require a fuel source due to the lack of electrical connection.
- Boilers or furnaces.
- Dry Cleaning Equipment. Nearly all Dry-Cleaning Operations, including strip mall operations, will likely be required to obtain an air permit.
- And many, many more types of facilities, pieces of equipment, and processes across New Jersey!
Due to the variety of sources that could qualify as significant, it can be difficult to know if your facility requires one or more air permits in New Jersey, as well as which type of air permit best fits your operation. For a deeper dive, check out WHO
Again though, when in doubt, either dig into the regulations or talk to an air permit expert.
3. Are there any exemptions from the need for an air permit in New Jersey?
For example, dry cleaning operations may be required to apply for an air permit, but if their operation uses water/liquid carbon dioxide, the operation may be exempt. Also, dryers greater than 1MMBTU/hr may require an air permit, while dryers with less of a heat input than this may be exempt.
Another example is for equipment that is used to either construct, repair or perform maintenance activities (commonly referred to as CRM activities) providing that this equipment is portable and temporary.
For the 20 significant sources and operations listed for minor facilities by the NJDEP, nearly all of them have conditions that may or may not grant you exemption from having to acquire an air permit. Again, when in doubt, either start reading over the regulations or talk to an expert. You don't want to incorrectly believe you fall under an exemption and find out the hard way!.
4. Who enforces air permits in New Jersey?
Air permits in New Jersey are enforced by the NJDEP. This agency has regulatory authority as granted under the Air Pollution and Control Act. In other words, they call the shots! State regulators have the right to enter a facility, conduct inspections, as well as other various actions relating to your air permit.
You read that right, the NJDEP, once you have an air permit, has the right to enter your facility whenever they choose (within reason) to inspect your facility, review paperwork, check on your compliance, etc. They can enforce regulations as they see fit, issue violations, etc., etc. So, do your best to stay on their good side because when push comes to shove, they call the shots with regards to air permits in New Jersey.
Will I be inspected by the NJDEP because I have an air permit?
The short answer is yes, it's very likely that you will be inspected by the NJDEP if you have an air permit, regardless of what type of air permit it is (more on that in a minute). NJDEP officials will likely perform an initial inspection within a year after approval of your air permit. Folks from the NJDEP do this to make sure that your air permit application was correct, and your fully in compliance with your air permit. If you aren't in compliance or you're covered under the wrong permit, you can expect the NJDEP won't be happy.
When it comes to enforcing regulations, we've seen it all with the NJDEP. We've seen facilities politely be asked to get covered under the correct permits, while we've seen other facilities have the book thrown at them, being fined, and even have seen facilities temporarily closed for serious violations. You, your operation, process, attitude, location, and impact to the environment can all play a roll when it comes to dealing with regulators.
What should I expect from a NJDEP inspection?
Normally, inspections are unannounced by the NJDEP. That's right, they usually just show up to inspect your facility. Why? Because they don't want you to tidy up, or do things differently just because you know they're coming. They want to observe your operation under normal, daily conditions. Unless you want to start things off on a bad note, you'll need to let them come in, comply with their demands (within reason) and allow them to conduct their inspection.
This could involve looking over paperwork, reviewing your permit, walking around your facility, taking pictures or videos, and even talking with staff on-site regarding your air permit. As long as you follow the applicable requirements under your air permit you should be fine. Again, we've heard and seen inspectors cut people a lot of slack, while others strictly follow the rules and will ding you for every little issue.
One word of advice: BE DILIGENT. You should expect to be inspected at any time. So, keep your paperwork in order, take care of issues as they happen, keep your site as neat and orderly as possible, and make sure you, or a backup in case you aren't there, is trained on your permit and ready for an inspection at any time.
We often hear people say "they can't come in unless they make an appointment here"! WRONG! The NJDEP can come in when they please. If they want to inspect your property, they can. Don't want to let them in? Expect problems, ranging from fines, to increased scrutiny, to (and yes we've heard of this happening) the NJDEP showing up with law enforcement to escort them onto your property. After all, we're talking about environmental laws here that you agreed to follow by getting covered under an air permit.
Of course, if you have site-specific requirements (that are within reason) the NJDEP will need to comply with them. For example, if you require full PPE (steel toe shoes, hard hat, eye protection, hearing protection, safety vests, etc.) you can require visitors to your site to wear them. If someone from the NJDEP did not have appropriate shoes on, you could ask them to come back at a later date with appropriate footwear if that's a documented, company policy. If they forgot safety glasses, a hard hat, eye or hearing protection, or another small piece of PPE that you could reasonably provide to visitors, you would most likely be asked to provide them some on a temporary basis.
Inspections can be tough, that's why we're rambling on about them. If you're worried about someone showing up, you can be prepared early by either following the NJDEP's Generic Air Checklist or hire an outside consultant to come in and provide a mock NJDEP inspection.
5. Why should I bother getting an air permit?
Sounds like a lot of hassle, right? The bottom line is this. If you want to run your business and do whatever it is you do at your facility in New Jersey, you have two options: follow the law and get a permit, or don't do it.
It's sort of like driving a car. If you're in New Jersey you have two options, get a driver's license, or don't drive a car. It's that simple.
So why get an air permit in New Jersey? Because without it, you're breaking the law, and the NJDEP can force you to stop doing what you're doing at your business by either fining you or flat out forcing you to close down. Yes, the NJDEP has the power to shut down your operation if you're not in compliance with applicable environmental regulations in New Jersey.
So think of it this way, you should bother getting that air permit here in New Jersey because without it you won't be able to run your business, and/or you'll face financial repercussions. Which, by the way, just like everything else in New Jersey, the monetary fines can be severe for non-compliance. Just a bit of info, Clean Air Act violations max out at around $95,000 per violation, per day, so things can add up quickly!
Aside from threatening your livelihood and financial well-being, why get a permit? Because the need for these permits is backed by decades of air quality statistics and science. You need a permit because you're doing something, running something, or someway involved in polluting the air. Remember those awful pictures of hazy, smoggy city skylines from the '60s and '70s? That's because of unchecked pollution from air emissions from industrial sites. These permits help to curtail industrial pollution and keep our air cleaner and healthier. I think we can all agree it's nice having clean air to breathe, right?
6. Are there different types of air permits in New Jersey?
Absolutely! There are several different types of air permits in New Jersey offered by the NJDEP. They are:
- General Permit (Minor Facilities) - The most common air permit in New Jersey! This air permit is for the 20 different minor facilities that fall under these general classifications.
- Case by Case/Pre-Construction Permit (PCP) (Minor Facilities) - This air permit is for minor facilities that do not fall under one of the General Air Permits.
- General Operating Permit (Major Facilities) - This air permit is for major facilities that already have Title V Operating Permits. There are several different source-specific General Operating Permits.
- Title V Operating Permit (Major Facilities) - This air permit is for sources that aren't covered under a General Operating Permit.
Air Permits cover both industrial and commercial operations within the state, though exemptions to these rules do apply on a case by case basis as we discussed above.
Remember, air Permits in New Jersey are issued depending on which type of equipment and what type of operation is present at your facility. These various types of equipment, operations, and processes are known as “sources”, and since sources can vary, even from similar operations, there are intricate rules and regulations that can differ depending on where you're located, what you're doing, what equipment you use, and how you use it.
How do I know which air permit I need in New Jersey?
If you are unsure about what permits your facility requires, it is first useful to understand if your facility is a major or minor facility as defined by the NJDEP.
The easiest way to think about it is this: Major facilities are just that, major polluters! That doesn't mean they are large in size, it just means that they are emitting pollutants above certain thresholds. For example, if your facility emits X amount of a certain chemical, and that amount is over a numerical threshold, then you're a major facility. Conversely, if you emit less than that numerical threshold, then you're a minor facility.
However, just because you're considered a minor facility for one parameter, doesn't mean you'll be in the clear for the rest. Additionally, there are Federal regulations that might automatically kick you into the Major category, regardless! Again, check with an expert. Don't just hope you're doing things correctly, make sure you are!
Let's focus on minor permits for a minute, since that covers a lot of processes, equipment, and businesses here in New Jersey. A minor facility in the State of New Jersey has two options for an air permit. The first option is the facility can acquire a General Permit (GP) which has fixed conditions and is specific to the various types of equipment and their operation. There are currently 20 minor facility General Permits in New Jersey, such as:
- Emergency Generator(s) Burning Distillate Fuels (GP-005A)
- Solid Material Storage Equipment (GP-001A)
- Boiler(s) and/or Heater(s) each Less Than 5 MMBTU/hr (GP-017A)
- Portable Equipment (GP-019)
- Perchloroethylene Drycleaning Equipment (GP-012A)
- And 15 additional General Permits!
However, if you find that your facility is still classified as minor but does not qualify for any of the 20 General Permits, you'll need to get a different air permit, which is referred to as either a Pre-Construction Permit or Case by Case Permit. This permit takes longer to be approved than a General Air Permit but allows the applicant to tailor the terms and conditions to their needs.
If you are a major facility there are two permitting options available. The first is a General Operating Permit (GOP). This works the same way as a minor facility general permit, with fixed terms and conditions. The other option is a Title V operating permit which is similar to a case by case / PCP permit.
7. How do I get my own air permit in New Jersey?
Want to go the DIY route? It's not impossible, but it can be tricky. I compare it to doing your own taxes. For some, it's a piece of cake, for others, it's borderline impossible.
If you decide to do it on your own, obtaining an air permit in the state of New Jersey is not always a difficult process. For this example, we'll go over obtaining a General Permit, because out of the 4 available permits, this is by far the easiest to deal with.
Before applying for a General Permit, you'll need to know if you meet all the regulations and standards in the applicable permit, which isn't always the easiest task. Once you determine whether or not you can use the General Permit, you can complete an application online on the NJDEP's website. Fill out the application, pay your fee, and that's it! You're all set and can either construct or operate your business. Of course, you'll need to be in compliance with the permit and should expect someone from the state to come and check on you sooner than later.
How do I get my own Pre-Construction Air Permit in New Jersey?
If you find that your facility is not covered under any of the 20 General Air Permits and are still below major reporting thresholds, you can obtain a Pre-Construction Permit. This is more complex, but still not impossible. Here are a few things you'll need to do:
- Obtain a facility ID with the NJDEP
- Complete an application using the NJDEP’s Radius Online Program
- Include the following information:
- Reason for Application
- Facility Profile with Responsible Individual Contact Information
- Identify Insignificant Source Emissions
- Provide Equipment Inventory and Details
- Provide Control Device Inventory and Details
- Provide Emission Point Inventory Data
- Provide Operating Scenarios and Details
- Describe Potential to Emit Values
- Create a Compliance Plan
- And more!
As you can see, this is much more complex. And, after you submit your application, it can take (according to the NJDEP) up to 60-days for processing, but, it could take much longer. Once the permit is approved, then your facility is able to operate/construct within accordance to the terms of the permit.
What about getting an air permit for a major facility in New Jersey?
Now things are getting complex. If you qualify as a major facility, you'll need to obtain a General Operating Permit or a Title V Operating Permit.
A General Operating Permit (GOP) is similar to a General Permit, meaning it has fixed conditions, and SOTA (State of The Art) standards specific to the permit. However, because you are a major facility, you MUST have a Title V Operating Permit if you are to apply for a General Operating Permit as well.
A Title V Operating Permit is more akin to a Preconstruction Permit, allowing flexibility in the permitting process, but typically taking much more time to approve due to lengthy public commenting periods and back and forth between the state agency and the applicant.
Make sense? Didn't think so. This is where unless you really know what you're doing, your best bet is to hire an expert. Again, think about taxes. Sometimes your returns are confusing, complex, and include so much information that you're just better off calling an accountant!
8. Can I get an air permit in New Jersey myself?
Let me be perfectly clear if this hasn't set in already: just because it is possible to get an air permit yourself, does not always mean it is the best option. If you are unaware of all the terms and conditions listed in your permit or fail to grasp what equipment is covered under your permit, you may be setting yourself up for considerable violations, or lengthy discussions with the NJDEP on how to get your application approved. Depending on your understanding of the permitting process and your own available time, it may or may not be in your best interest to do it yourself.
For general permits, Preconstruction Permits, and General Operating Permits, it is possible to complete this process yourself. If you do it wrong, don't expect any leniency because you did it yourself. Title V Permits will likely require a professional engineer or land surveyor due to modeling requirements.
So I need an expert or engineer to get an air permit for me in New Jersey?
An expert or engineer is not typically required to obtain an air permit in the state of New Jersey.
However, certain Preconstruction Permits and Title V Operating Permits may require a professional engineer or land surveyor to satisfy air modeling requirements. Unless you're an engineer or a land surveyor, you may need to hire outside help, no matter how much you understand what you're doing!
9. How long does it take to get an air permit in New Jersey?
Minor facilities have it pretty easy. For a General Air Permit at a minor facility, you're covered as soon as you hit submit, ie, instantly! Preconstruction / Case by Case Air Permits in New Jersey can take 2 months, or more, depending on if the NJDEP deems it necessary to have a public comment period.
Major facilities on the other hand... For a Title V Air Permit, you can expect the process to be much longer, anywhere from two months to upwards of a year. In our experience, the NJDEP doesn't "speed" things through, so expect the process to take a while. It's not going to take a decade (we hope) but it could take a few months to get covered under a more complex permit for a major facility. There's also an allotted time period for public comment and review on the proposed permit application for major facilities. And, the Title V Operating Air Permit cannot be approved until all public questions are answered by the NJDEP. In short, sit back and wait because it could be a while.
10. How long is an air permit in New Jersey good for?
Great question! In the State of New Jersey, air permits are in effect for 5 years from the time the NJDEP approves your air permit application. General Permits, Preconstruction / Case by Case Permits, General Operating Permits, and Title V Permits are all good for 5 years once they are approved.
Bear in mind, that means that these permits have different "expiration" dates based on when you obtained coverage. So if you had an operation in Cape May County that got coverage on 12/15/2015, it would be expiring 12/15/2020. If you had another operation in Middlesex county that got coverage under an air permit on 01/22/2016, then your permit would be expiring on 01/22/2021. This just means you'll need to keep track of these dates.
How do I renew my air permit?
Depending on which type of permit your facility has, the process of renewal can be different.
For example, with a General Air Permit which lasts for five years, the permit should be renewed and paid for 4 months prior to its expiration. However, before approval of your renewal, the NJDEP may require the permittee to conduct testing to verify compliance with the permit. The NJDEP will also send an invoice to the contact listed in the permit to notify them of renewal. The cost of renewal for a General Permit is $885.
Be warned - every year we see organizations lapse in permit coverage because the NJDEP either didn't send an invoice out or sent it to the wrong address. That does not excuse you from paying, and the NJDEP won't allow that as an excuse for a lapse in coverage. Crazy, I know, but the burden is on you to pay your bill on time (even if you don't receive an invoice) in order to stay in compliance.
The same applies for a renewal of a Case by Case/Preconstruction Air Permit, but this permit has a base fee of $1267 plus additional fees for equipment. With your permit renewal, you are also required to renew your operating certificate, which is an additional fee. This operating certificate is included in the permit for PCP Permits in New Jersey.
The renewal application of a Generating Operating Permit or a Title V Operating Permit must be received at least 12-15 months prior to expiration and will have associated fees as well.
Are you catching on here? The biggest thing with renewing an air permit in New Jersey is paying your bill on time. In many cases, it's as simple as making a payment and getting five more years of permit coverage.
11. How much does an air permit cost in New Jersey?
Again, it depends! Air permits in New Jersey range from $885 for a General Air Permit to $3,125 or more for a Title V Operating Air Permit.
Let's break it down. A General Air Permit in New Jersey costs $885 (as of the time of writing this) and offers same-day approval, paid once when you apply and get approved for the permit. Want to renew it 5-years later after it expires? That'll be another $885!
Now consider a Case by Case / Preconstruction Air Permit. The base fee for a PCP Air Permit in New Jersey is $2,527 plus an additional $590 for each piece of permitted equipment.
Obtaining an Air Permit for a Major Facility can be more expensive. The base fee for a General Operating Permit in New Jersey is the same as it is for a General Permit - $885. Conversely, Title V Operating Permits can greatly vary in cost. For example, the standard rate is $60.00 per ton of emissions, with a minimum requirement of $3000. And, the application fee is $125 for each piece of significant source equipment. As you can imagine, this can add up quickly for larger facilities.
How much does it cost to hire an air permit expert in New Jersey?
I sound like a broken record, but again it's going to depend.
For one, which type of air permit(s) your facility is going to be covered under will impact how much time and expertise needs to go into the project. For example, associated costs for a general permit will typically be much less than for a Case by Case Permit due to the applicability requirements, fees, and potential modeling costs. The same goes for Title V Operating Permits, which usually are the most expensive type of permit to acquire. Consultant costs will likely be based on these determinants.
On average, the cost to hire an environmental consultant to help you get covered by an air permit in New Jersey could be anywhere between $500 and $20,000 or more, all depending on the permit, your sources, the specifics of the project, and who you want to hire. For us here at RMA, we generally find that air permit-related projects we work on end up running anywhere between $1,500 and $8,000.
I know, that's a huge difference in pricing, but the reality is the more complex the operation and therefore the permit requirements, the more expensive it will be to hire an environmental expert. Unless you're covered under a General Air Permit, there are a lot of factors that can, and do, impact the costs of hiring an expert, which make pinning down an exact number extremely difficult.
Additionally, when you think about hiring an expert, are you talking about the local guy downtown who only does air permits in a specific area? Or are you talking about a large, national-level firm that has regional offices in every major city? Or maybe your hiring an expert in your specific industry? The point being, who you hire, regardless of the type of permit, might charge you differently.
What are some ongoing or long-term costs regarding air permits in New Jersey?
Because the various air permits available in New Jersey differ, the long-term costs of upkeep and compliance can be quite different, just like the long-term costs of owning a car.
Aside from initial approval fees, different permits will likely carry different associated requirements which can be costly. For example, air modeling for Title V Operating Air Permits and, if necessary, for Pre-Construction Permits, can add thousands of dollars to an already costly permit due to expensive and complex requirements.
Regardless, here are some of the most common long-term costs regarding air permits in New Jersey.
- Sampling / Testing Costs: Upon the request of the NJDEP, a facility might have to collect a split-sample of diesel fuel or a similar substance to show compliance with permit requirements. Facilities may also have to conduct stack tests to determine potential emissions. Stack testing alone can be a few thousand dollars! And, once you collect a sample, you are probably going to need to get it tested, which costs money. Depending on the material and analysis it could be a few hundred dollars, or thousands of dollars or more.
- Modeling Costs: Again, for Title V Air Permits and some Case by Case / Pre-Construction Air Permits, modeling can be an expensive endeavor and requires either the hiring of an expert (which costs money) or requesting the NJDEP do the modeling protocol for you, (which also costs money). Regardless, modeling can be expensive, which raises the price of ongoing air permit compliance in New Jersey.
- Professional Costs: Hiring a consultant for any type of assistance will add additional fees. Typically, services can range from just getting you covered under the permit, to helping your facility draft an air quality impact analysis, training, inspections, or anything else that’s applicable or might be a good idea to keep you in compliance with your air permit in New Jersey.
- Modifications: Not many things stay the same, and that likely includes your business, the equipment you use, and your processes. If you need to make a modification to your permit, or any amendments, that will cost you. It could be something cheap and simple, to something extremely complex which could incur thousands of dollars worth of costs.
Additional Environmental Costs in New Jersey
Here is a scenario we see happen all the time.
You get covered under a permit, in this case, an air permit, and you get inspected by an NJDEP inspector. When they visit the site, they alert you to the fact you need other various environmental permits, plans, or approvals at your facility. Things like:
- NJPDES Stormwater Permits
- SPCC Plans
- New Jersey Recycling Approval
- New Jersey Recycling Exemption
- Community Right-to-Know Reporting
- and more!
Because you've allowed inspectors in to examine your facility, they're going to make sure you're in compliance with your permit, and any other potentially applicable environmental permits.
We see and hear about this constantly, especially from organizations that tend to brush off regulations until "someone asks about them". Usually, it isn't an issue unless there are egregious violations at your facility.
12. Do I need an air permit for New Jersey if I'm entirely indoors?
The short answer, as crazy as this sounds, is yes, you will still need an air permit if you are operating equipment which would normally require you to obtain an air permit, inside or outside.
Emissions can be direct or indirect into the atmosphere, it doesn't matter whether you're in a building, under an awning, or out in the middle of nowhere. The NJDEP does not discriminate between indoor or outdoor facilities, as equipment specification and its potential to emit values are the key factors considered by the NJDEP when issuing air permits
Bear in mind, when it comes to stormwater permits, New Jersey also requires permit coverage for operations that are entirely indoors as well. I'm referring to the Basic Industrial Stormwater Permit (5G2) in New Jersey.
13. What will I need to do once I'm covered under an air permit?
Once your air permit is approved, you'll be required to adhere to all monitoring requirements, maintenance and site-upkeep, and all compliance measures listed in the permit. Requirements are specific to each of the four different types of air permits in New Jersey. For example, General Air Permits include compliance plans specific to each individual permit.
So the short answer is, it depends. There are no "set it and forget it" permits, regardless of your permit type, there will be ongoing compliance requirements. For example, here are two links for general procedures with various permits:
Title V and PCP Air Permits will likely have to observe a similar set of requirements as linked in the above reference documents, in addition to specific terms and conditions geared towards your operation.
14. If I have an existing air permit, and bring in new, similar equipment, is that covered under my air permit?
The answer is almost guaranteed to be no, your new equipment is not covered under your current permit. Your permit will have to either be modified (and this may sometimes require authorization from the NJDEP and an additional fee) or you may need a new permit. For example, if you replaced your current equipment with something extremely similar, its potential to emit values will be a large factor in determining if you can just make an amendment to your permit and submit it to the NJDEP yourself without their authorization if you’ll require a modification or worst-case scenario, need a new permit.
Most of the time, if you are adding new equipment to your facility that is deemed a significant source, you will likely need to either update your permit or get a new one. For example, if you have a General Air Permit for a hot oil heater, but decide to bring on-site an emergency generator for power backup, this would not be covered under your general permit and would require an additional general permit specific to emergency generators.
Consider another example where you have a hot oil heater, but wish to add a second hot oil heater to your operation. Does this require a new general permit? Yes. Another application fee of $885 would be necessary and a new general permit would be issued to your facility for two individual hot oil heaters.
What about for Pre-Construction or Title V Operating Air Permits?
Oftentimes, any new equipment will require a modification, amendment, or the drafting of a new air permit altogether. From our experience, replacing equipment, equipment modifications, etc., can be a complex matter when it comes to PCP or Title V work. Our best word of advice is to either dig into the regulations yourself, looking for information specific to your operation or consult an expert.
15. Does temporary/portable equipment require an air permit in New Jersey?
Yup! It's very likely that any temporary or portable equipment at your facility in New Jersey is going to need an air permit, with few exceptions. Generally, if your equipment can be moved it’s considered portable. If your equipment is on-site for over a year, it's not considered temporary. Here's a common exception, if your portable equipment is used for construction, repair, and maintenance activities (CRM), you do not require an air permit and can keep this equipment on-site for 1 year. These types of equipment include power washers, vacuum cleaners and generally do not have a large potential to emit. CRM activities do NOT require an air permit, providing all conditions are met. Additionally, some engines may be exempt from needing a permit based on whether or not they provide propulsion.
Whether or not your equipment or facility is temporary and/or portable almost doesn't matter. Chances are pretty good you’ll need a permit either way. Again, when in doubt, either dig into the regulations on your own or consult an expert.
17. How do I modify my air permit?
Depending on the modification you want to make to your air permit will determine what process is necessary to go through. Some modifications might require approval from the NJDEP, which could be a long, laborious, expensive process, while other changes stipulate only a notice to the Department which might be quick and easy. Regardless, if you're asking for a modification, you may be required to pay additional fees.
Typically, a modification that requires only a notice sent to the NJDEP is called an amendment. Amendments can modify many existing permit conditions such as:
- Changes in Permit Contact / Certificate Information
- Transfer of Ownership
- Stack Changes (in some cases)
- Change in Contents of Storage Tank or Containers
- Typographical Error Corrections
- Etc., etc.
Typical Modifications that Require NJDEP Approval
- Request for Increase in Allowable Emissions
- Emission of a New, Not Previously Specified Air Contaminant
- Stack Changes (in other cases!)
- Addition of Control Apparatus
- New Significant Source
- Compliance Plan Changes
- Etc., etc.
As you can see, it all depends on what you're asking to be changed in your permit. Just like everything else with this regulation, if it's out of your wheelhouse, consult with an expert.
18. Will I need to do a risk assessment, an air quality impact analysis, or air modeling to get an air permit in New Jersey?
This is a multi-part question, so let's look at this individually.
A risk assessment is simply a way of determining if any emissions from your facility could cause environmental or human health risks. It is a preventative program of the Clean Air Act, modified by the NJDEP.
Typically, if you fail risk assessment you will have to conduct air modeling, which is a part of the larger air quality impact analysis.
Let's break that down so it makes more sense. If your facility needs a General Permit, the answer is no, you do not need to do any of the above, as the emission limits and SOTA (State of the Art) standards are built into the permit.
However, if your facility needs to get covered under a Case by Case / Preconstruction or Title V Operating Air Permit, then the answer is... maybe, depending on two options:
- Option 1 - Have reporting thresholds above various limits, depending on the pollutant.
- Option 2 - You do risk assessment screening, and further evaluation is required. You’ll talk to the NJDEP and they’ll determine if you need to do air modeling as part of an air quality impact analysis.
This isn't the most crystal clear thing in the world. For example, emissions from a generator onsite used to power appliances may give off diesel soot in excess of the NJDEP’s “negligible” limit, and the risk assessment spreadsheet may show that further evaluation is required. Depending on how much your facility’s emissions are in excess, you and your permit evaluator can discuss a plan of action to curb emissions and still go ahead with ratifying the permit, without doing air modeling. Or not! It all depends.
If you qualify as a major facility, you will likely have to do air quality modeling. There's generally no way around this due to the significant potential to emit values that major facilities typically demonstrate.
19. Can I get in trouble for not having an air permit in New Jersey?
Yes. Remember, following applicable air permit regulations is like following speed limits, it's the law, and there's no way around it.
Regulatory agencies will not care if you are ignorant of the law in New Jersey, just like the NJSP doesn't care if you didn't see the posted speed limit sign.
If you have equipment or operations that require an air permit in New Jersey, and you fail to have one, you could be setting yourself up for considerable fines, having your operations paused, or even having your operation shut down. Monetary violations can range from small warnings to large monetary fines in excess of $95,000 per day per violation!
Let's do the math... You have three violations, you've been out of compliance for 90 days, so your fine could be over $25.7 million. The government has the option of throwing the book at you and bankrupting you if they choose to do so. This is not worth messing around with. We have seen smaller organizations with less than ten facilities receive fines in excess of $10,000,000. It can happen and does happen.
If you are unsure if your facility requires an air permit, it would be wise to resolve that issue, either by yourself or through consulting a knowledgeable expert.
20. I need an air permit but I'm already in business, what should I do?
Our advice, do what you need to do, but get covered ASAP. Since your facility is already out of compliance, you have a limited window of time to act, so get moving NOW and get covered.
It's a risky gamble to bet that the NJDEP will not visit your operation eventually. In the summertime, interns drive around looking for facilities with non-compliance potential (because it makes the government money). Inspectors will randomly stop and ask you about your operation if they see stacks. Neighbors can call and complain. Competition can call and complain. Disgruntled ex-employees can call and complain!
The point being, you are not living under a rock, your facility isn't invisible, and with technology like Google Street View, Google Maps, and drones, it's extremely easy for the general public to spy on industrial operations.
21. Do counties in New Jersey have their own air permitting requirements?
Thankfully, no! There are several states in the country that may require you to file your permit application through specific counties, agencies, or boards, based on your geographic location. New Jersey is NOT one of those states!
Also, counties do not have different source thresholds for “attainment” vs. “non-attainment” areas, but we're getting a bit technical here.
22. Are there additional Federal requirements regarding my air permit?
Again, thankfully not likely. All applicable Federal requirements such as NESHAPs and NSPS will be built into your permit by your permit evaluator. Any additional federal requirements will be made known to your facility as your permit is being drafted, but it's unlikely (but not impossible) for anything to pop up.
Additional Information on Air Permits in New Jersey
That's a lot to take in, right? If you're overwhelmed, you're not alone. RMA has been actively involved in helping companies get and stay in compliance since our founding in 1992. Long story short, we know the ins and outs of the environmental problems industrial and commercial facilities face and can help you get into compliance with the applicable laws and regulations, ensuring your business stays out of trouble.
Our staff members have been on-site at thousands of commercial and industrial operations across the country, so when we say we've seen it all and done it all, we mean it. We've helped multi-national organizations on multi-state projects, as well as small mom and pop operations, get in compliance with local laws and regulations. No matter your size, industry, or location, we can help when it comes to air permits in New Jersey.
So, if you're having any type of air permitting issue at your operation, we'd love to talk and learn how we can help. Even if we can't help, chances are pretty good we know who can help you, and we'd love to get you in touch with the right people to fit your needs.
To reach out, feel free to shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, click here to contact us, or give us a call anytime at 888-RMA-0230 to learn how we can help your operation deal with environmental regulations.