If you own or operate a facility that is classified as a new or existing major source of air pollutants, then you probably already have a Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) permit. But do you know the facts behind the Prevention of Significant Deterioration Program? Take ERA Environmental’s PSD Permit Pop Quiz to find out how much you really know about your permit.

    Question 1: What are the 6 criteria pollutants controlled by the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS)?

    Answer: Nitrogen oxides, VOCs, sulfur dioxide, fine particulate, carbon monoxide, and lead.

    The Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) permit program also applies to other pollutants not included under NAAQS, including fluorides, sulphuric acid mist, hydrogen sulfide, total reduced sulfur, and certain contaminants from municipal solid waste plants.

    Question 2: How does the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) define a major source of air pollutants?

    Answer: A major source is any facility or plant that is on EPA’s list of source categories and emits or has the potential to emit at least 100 tons per year (tpy) or more of any single criteria pollutant. If the facility is not on the list, then an emission limit of 250 tpy applies instead.

    Question 3: A Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) permit requires a facility to install BACT devices. What does BACT stand for and how is it determined?

    Answer: Best Available Control Technology. Installing BACT control devices means that your facility must be equipped with the latest and most advanced available control devices to reduce air emissions. BACT regulations mean that you can’t construct a new facility using less than top-notch technology or the best work practices.

    The EPA determines what your industry’s BACT standards are by comparing similar, best-performing facilities across a specific industry and analyzing the potential reduction in emissions, energy use, and cost.  If you want to learn more about how the EPA determines its standards, download ERA’s free guide “Getting to Grips with MACTs and NESHAPs”.

    Question 4: The EPA takes great strides to include the public in its decisions regarding air quality standards and permitting. For which source categories are the public given the opportunity to submit comments, and for how long does this period last?

    Answer: The public is given the opportunity to comment on ALL potential Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) permits. The period for public commentary is generally 30 days, but the EPA can extend this if there is significant public demand.

    Question 5: To which agencies must you submit a copy of your PSD permit application?

    Answer: When applying for a Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) permit, you need to provide 2 copies of the application to your local EPA permitting agency, one to the appropriate Federal Land Manager (FLM), one to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (as appropriate), and to your appropriate state, local, or Tribal agencies.

    The EPA strongly recommends that you submit an electronic and a signed hard copy of your PSD permit application.

    Quiz complete! 

    Now add up your score and check the results section below. And why not take ERA's crash course Title V Air Permits 101?

    PSD permits results

    Adding up your score

    0 – 1 correct: Nice try. It’s time to brush up on the basics of EPA regulation methodology with our free guide “Getting to Grips with MACTs and NESHAPs”.

    2 – 3 correct: Good job. Now it’s time to take the next step and learn everything you need to know about Greenhouse Gas Accounting.

    4 – 5 correct: Congratulations!


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    This Blog was Co-Authored By:


    Alex Chamberlain
    Post by Alex Chamberlain
    December 6, 2011
    Alex Chamberlain is a writer for ERA Environmental Management Solutions.