NPS Role in Permit Review
Where emissions from new or modified facilities might affect Class I areas, the Federal land manager (FLM) must be notified. The Clean Air Act (CAA) gives the FLM and the Federal official charged with direct responsibility for management of Class I areas (i.e., the Park Superintendent) an affirmative responsibility to protect air quality related values (AQRVs), and to consider in consultation with the permitting authority whether a proposed major emitting facility will have an adverse impact on such values. AQRVs include visibility, odor, flora, fauna, and geological resources; archeological, historical, and other cultural resources; and soil and water resources. The FLM for DOI-administered lands is the Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks.
Since 1978, the NPS has reviewed many PSD permit applications. The FLM's permit review process consists of three main analyses:
- a best available control technology (BACT) analysis to ensure that the emission increases from the proposed facility are minimized;
- an air quality analysis to ensure that the pollutant levels do not exceed national ambient air quality standards and PSD increments; and
- an AQRV analysis to ensure that the Class I area values are not adversely affected by the proposed emissions
When a Class I area might be affected by emissions from a proposed source, there is a site-specific evaluation to determine whether emissions from the source will cause an adverse impact on the AQRVs. The adverse impact test works like this:
- If the FLM determines and convinces the permitting authority that the source will adversely affect the Class I area's resources even though the source's emissions will not contribute to an increment violation, then the PSD permit will not be issued.
- If emissions from the source cause or contribute to an increment violation, then the PSD permit can only be issued if the permit applicant convinces the FLM that there will not be an adverse impact.
Often, the NPS's involvement has resulted in changes in the proposed permit, such as use of more efficient control technology or cleaner fuels, that have helped protect potentially affected parks.
For access to guidance documents and other information explaining the FLM role, review process, and AQRVs of concern, visit our Related Info page.