Air Quality and Permits
The AQMD is responsible for ensuring that Sacramento County's air quality meets state and federal health standards. The County's air does not meet these standards for ozone and particulate matter. Materials and/or processes used by businesses can contribute to ozone formation and particulate matter. Permits issued by the AQMD are designed to reduce air pollution and help Sacramento meet federal and state air quality standards.
The Authority to Construct/Permit to Operate is a document granting permission to build and then to operate equipment that will meet air quality standards. Like city and county building permits, the Authority to Construct/Permit to Operate is part of doing business in the County.
The Stationary Source Permitting Section of the AQMD is responsible for:
- Reviewing and approving applications for permits, including ensuring that stationary sources of air pollution will meet the requirements of New Source Review (NSR)
- Implementation of Title V of the federal Clean Air Act, the permitting major sources of air pollution;
- Coordinating the collection of annual permit renewal fees, and;
- Implementing the state Air Toxics Hot Spots program.
Who Needs a Permit?
AQMD Rule 201 requires any business or person to obtain an Authority to Construct/Permit to Operate before installing or operating new equipment or processes that may release or control air pollutants to ensure that all AQMD rules and regulations are considered. This allows time for you to make any required design changes in the blueprint planning stage. Failure to do so may result in possible civil or criminal penalties, as well as investment in design and/or purchase of equipment that may not be found approvable. As a practical matter, you should contact the AQMD before purchasing new equipment.
Both large and small businesses whose operations emit air pollutants are covered by AQMD rules and regulations. Operations or equipment that usually require an AQMD permit include:
- dry cleaning
- gasoline stations or any gasoline dispensing facility
- solvent cleaning (degreasers)
- coating of metal parts and products
- plating operations
- coating of plastic parts and products
- auto body refinishing
- paint spray booths
- storage of organic liquids
- wood furniture and cabinet coating
- air pollution control equipment
- solid waste disposal sites
- equipment which handles asbestos, beryllium, benzene, hexavalent chromium, mercury or vinyl chloride
- graphic arts operations
- combustion equipment such as boilers and stationary internal combustion engines; and
- contaminated soil/water remediation projects
Events That May Require a Permit:
- modifying existing equipment
- changing ownership
- relocating equipment to a new address
- changing methods of operation at a facility
- requesting to modify permit conditions, including changing permitted emissions.
The AQMD's List and Criteria document (PDF) contains further detail on the information required of permit applicants.
If you need help determining whether or not your business
requires a permit, call the AQMD at (916) 874-4800. You may also
contact the AQMD's Compliance Assistance Hotline: (916) 874-4884.
Evaluation Process (What Happens After I Apply?)
An AQMD engineer will evaluate your application package. AQMD Rule 202 - New Source Review may impose additional requirements depending on the size of your operation and the type of equipment proposed. The AQMD will contact you if additional information is needed.
Processing time varies with the complexity of the application. In some cases, state and/or federal law may require an Authority To Construct/Permit to Operate to go through a public comment period, which may affect the processing time.
If the engineering evaluation shows that your equipment may operate in compliance, you will receive an Authority to Construct. This document allows you to construct and begin operating your equipment.
It is very important that you thoroughly review the conditions in the Authority to Construct immediately upon receipt to ensure that they are correct and that your equipment can operate in compliance. If you construct and operate under those conditions you are responsible to comply with them. Each instance of noncompliance with a condition in the Authority to Construct can subject a facility to enforcement action, including the issuance of a Notice to Comply or a Notice of Violation and possibly a civil penalty. If you feel that you cannot operate under the conditions and wish to appeal, you must file the appeal with the AQMD Hearing Board within 30 days of receiving the Authority to Construct.
After you have begun operation, the AQMD will conduct an on-site inspection of your equipment to ensure that it is constructed according to the Authority to Construct and that the equipment is complying with AQMD rules. In some cases, you must conduct a source test, or a special analysis of the emissions coming from your equipment.
Once you have demonstrated that your equipment complies with the Authority to Construct and AQMD rules through an inspection and/or source test, you will be issued a Permit to Operate.
Permit conditions limit or require specific actions by a source to ensure:
- Compliance with a rule or regulation
- Emissions stay within federal New Source Review allowances
- Proper operation of control devices
- Establishment of record keeping and reporting mechanisms
- Limiting toxic emissions
- Control of dust or odors
It is very important for sources to thoroughly review the conditions in a Permit to Operate immediately upon receipt to ensure that they are correct and that the equipment can operate in compliance. Each instance of noncompliance with a permit condition can subject a facility to enforcement action, including the issuance of a Notice to Comply or a Notice of Violation and possibly a civil penalty. If you feel that you cannot operate under the conditions in the permit and wish to appeal, you must file the appeal with the AQMD Hearing Board within 10 days of receiving the permit.
You must renew your Permit to Operate annually. As part of the annual renewal process, the AQMD will review permit conditions and emission data and make needed modifications to the permit. The AQMD will send an invoice with the permit renewal fee to the current permit holder on record. The fee will be the total of the permit renewal fee based on the type and size of the equipment and the calculated fee for the total tons of each pollutant emitted during the prior calendar year.
You must pay the renewal fee by the annual renewal date (due date) in the invoice or be subject to a 50% increase in fees. The AQMD will cancel the Permit to Operate if the annual renewal is not paid. It is a violation of state law and AQMD rules to continue to operate without a permit. Operation after a permit has been cancelled for non-payment of fees may result in a fine of up to $50,000 per day and/or up to six months in jail for each day of operation.