Illinois EPA Environmental Justice Procedures
The Illinois EPA Bureau of Air recently implemented more stringent procedures for securing an air permit for a new emissions source or emissions unit when the operations are located in, or within a mile of, an Environmental Justice area. How long the new procedures will remain in effect is not known, but any increase in air emissions will subject the project to more extensive review by the Illinois EPA and possibly the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) Region V, which could extend the permit application review by a substantial amount of time. Depending on the location of the source, the type and amount of the pollutant(s) being emitted, and the amount of interest or objection by interested parties, there is also a chance that the permit may not be approved. Interested parties include, but are not limited to, local activists, local government agencies, neighboring citizens, and other entities with an interest in Environmental Justice (EJ).
Assuming a permit with a net increase in emissions is approved, it will likely include the following elements.
Illinois EPA is recommending that a company seeking to construct and operate a new or modified source, or add a new emissions unit to an existing source, identify ways within the plant to lower air emissions of the applicable air contaminant(s) such that the project will not result in a net emissions increase. Illinois EPA is not expecting a source to conduct a formal netting exercise, but instead suggests considering product substitutions such as alternative cleaning solutions with low or no volatile organic material (VOM) or hazardous air pollutants (HAPs); for instance, a mixture of acetone and water, or detergents. Other approaches may include the installation of add-on pollution control equipment, use of cleaning solutions with low vapor pressures which evaporate more slowly, capturing some of the VOM in shop towels and cleaning rags rather than emitting them to the atmosphere, installation of recovery equipment (e.g., distillation equipment), and considering other raw material substitutions or equipment replacements.
When an air permit application is submitted to the Illinois EPA for a proposed project that does not result in a net emissions increase, the application will be processed by the permitting department, and then a draft permit will be forwarded to the EJ group at Illinois EPA. The EJ group will forward a copy of the draft permit to interested parties specific to that EJ area. If no comments are received within two weeks, the permitting group will issue a draft permit to the permittee for review and comments. Any substantive comments received from interested parties will be addressed by the Illinois EPA, and this process could cause delays, particularly if a public hearing is requested and granted.
Environmental Justice Background
The USEPA defines environmental justice as “the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income, with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies.” Environmental justice was originally established by Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits recipients of federal financial assistance (states, grantees, etc.) from discriminating against these populations in any program or activity. The scope of Title VI was expanded by Executive Order 12898 by President Clinton on February 11, 1994. Executive Order 12898 was issued to direct federal agencies to incorporate achieving EJ into their mission, and to identify and address, as appropriate, disproportionally high adverse human health and environmental effects of their programs, policies, and activities on minority and low-income populations. More recently, President Biden issued Executive Order 14008 Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad on January 27, 2021.
Illinois EPA has adopted policies and procedures to conform to Title VI of the Act and Executive Orders 12898 and 14008. According to Illinois EPA, “environmental justice is the protection of the health of the people of Illinois and its environment, equity in the administration of the State’s environmental programs, and the provision of adequate opportunities for meaningful involvement of all people with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies.”
EJ areas in Illinois are derived from US Census Block Groups where the population consists of a substantial amount of minorities and/or the area is heavily populated by persons and families living below the poverty line. Further information on how EJ areas are established can be found at Illinois EPA EJ Start (arcgis.com), which also includes a map identifying all EJ areas in the state.
About the Author: Ann O’Brien is a Project Manager at SCS Engineers with 33 years of experience in the printing industry. She assists companies with air, water, and waste management; EPCRA; environmental compliance audits; and Phase I Environmental Site Assessments.
For more information or assistance with identifying ways to lower air emissions or help with maneuvering through the air permitting process at Illinois EPA, contact Ann O’Brien () in Chicago, IL, or Cheryl Moran () in Milwaukee, WI. For assitance in other states please contact .
Agricultural growing and harvesting operations are typically exempt from air planning, permitting and odor nuisance regulations. However, cannabis operations may require approval from the local Planning Commission. They may also require air permits from the local air regulatory agency for manufacturing operations (e.g., for solvents and associated combustion equipment such as boilers). Air permit applications for cannabis manufacturing operations may include the following based on project-specific conditions:
In addition to these permitting services, and to avoid costly nuisance complaints, cannabis growers may also need odor-related services such as:
While these may seem like imposing lists for air planning they are not for engineers who work in the industry.
Developing effective plans to mitigate odors is vital in gaining Planning Commission approvals which often depend upon resolving concerns raised by the public. Comprehensive OAPs and OMPs include odor control Best Management Practices (BMPs) and adaptive management strategies for responding to odor complaints when cannabis operations are near residences and schools.
Odor Control – Odor Nuisance Mitigation Case Study
Cannabis greenhouses in the Carpinteria, California region were causing off-site odor nuisances at nearby residences. The inherent smell needed addressing, as odor-neutralizing vapors along cannabis greenhouse perimeters and ridgelines were not providing adequate odor control.
Working with Cannabis Association for Responsible Producers (CARP) Growers, Pacific Stone, Groundswell, and Envinity Group, SCS Engineers utilized its air quality and odor expertise to collect continuous measurements using our SCSent-i-PED (Pollutant and Environmental Data). SCSent-i-PED is a state-of-the-art method for measuring TRS compounds to the parts per billion (ppb) level. The system can assess concentrations in real time, and a single machine can assess multiple locations and sources within a facility. This method successfully assessed relative odor levels and spatial/temporal fluctuations in odor-causing emissions.
Data collection is vital and useful to:
SCS, through its years of experience in air quality and odors, provides cost-effective, sustainable solutions that enable greenhouses and facilities to coexist in urban and suburban environments. Our clients not only get solutions, but they also have the data and science to understand better how odors behave and vary within a cannabis greenhouse.
To learn more, watch a video about air planning and managing greenhouse odors at https://www.scsengineers.com/services/clean-air-act-services/odor-monitoring-and-control/
About the Author: Paul Schafer is a Vice President and Project Director at SCS Engineers and the firm’s National Expert on Ambient Air Monitoring. During his technical career, Paul has assumed key roles in several nationally significant monitoring efforts. He has in-depth experience interfacing with regulatory agencies regarding the performance of monitoring systems, source emission tests, and continuous process monitors, which SCS operates for our clientele. He has had direct working experience with multiple local, state, and federal agencies regarding monitoring programs and air quality impact assessments. As with all solutions at SCS, cost control management and defensible technical performance are primary goals integral to all sustainable monitoring programs.
Hydrogen is commonly produced using steam methane reforming (SMR), which requires heat, a catalyst, and feedstock such as natural gas. SMR operations generate atmospheric emissions from combustion and process vents which may require air permitting. Air permitting can be a complicated process that delays facility construction and project start-up.
Comprehensive feasibility studies include phases to facilitate pre-application meetings and submission of a complete air permit application in a timely, cost-effective manner. Based on our case studies, SCS suggests a four-phase approach.
Phase 1: Preparation and Due Diligence
To begin the evaluation, your engineer compiles all available project information, such as plot plans, process flow diagrams, equipment lists with specifications, zoning, grading, and utilities. Since project specifications are subject to change, your engineer must remain flexible and iterative in their analysis approach as new data becomes available.
Phase 2: Emissions Analysis
The next phase is to calculate the project’s potential to emit criteria pollutants and greenhouse gases (GHGs). The calculation assesses potential requirements for Best Available Control Technology (BACT), emission offsets, Title V, and climate change mitigation. Always use an engineering firm with expertise in GHG emissions inventories and third-party verification of GHG emission inventories and reduction credits. Here’s why, based on the analysis, your engineer will be looking for these factors to smooth the application process:
Project emissions complied with BACT limits based upon a comparison to other permitted SMR facilities.
Project emissions that require the purchase of carbon credits on an ongoing basis to comply with Cap and Trade regulations.
Project emissions that do not trigger the need for emission offsets or Title V.
Phase 3: Regulatory Review
Conducting a regulatory review will identify potential requirements from local regulations such as California’s South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD). Using SCAQMD as an example, the project must comply with the additional rules.
Phase 4: Results and Conclusions
The comprehensive feasibility study summarizes the potential air quality permitting thresholds, requirements, costs, and schedule for your project. It includes all conclusions and supporting data for decision-making. With a comprehensive study in hand, your project is more sustainable, and you have valuable answers during discussions leading to obtaining a complete air permit.
SCS has over 50 years of environmental experience and trusted working relations with regulatory agencies. Many local, state, and federal agencies attend our free webinars, and industry associations request our input and insight when agencies are planning new rules. We serve as expert witnesses. If you’d like to learn more about developing air permitting strategies and applications, visit our website or contact us at .
About the Author: Greg Hauser is a Project Director responsible for environmental compliance projects. Greg brings over 30 years of experience with compliance topics such as air quality permitting, emission inventories, dispersion modeling, health risk assessments, and odor impact assessments. He surveys facilities to identify sources of interest, collects field samples of odorous emissions, develops odor emission profiles based on odor concentrations and flow rates, and conducts dispersion modeling to predict odor concentrations at or beyond the facility’s property boundary. He also provides health risk assessments for aerospace, manufacturing, wastewater treatment, and oil and gas facilities.
Stephanie Taylor’s outstanding work recently earned her the prestigious Air & Waste Management Association’s 2021 Young Professional Award. As an SCS Engineers Environmental Professional, Stephanie manages and supports numerous clients in the Midwest, providing valuable air compliance/permitting and groundwater compliance services. She is a respected colleague at SCS and frequently provides services to offices outside of her business unit as an air compliance/permitting specialist.
In her recent work, Stephanie provided air compliance/permit audit services to a private client completing a companywide multimedia audit. Her work took her to multiple industrial manufacturing plants nationwide. Her attention to detail is integral in identifying non-compliance and areas of improvement that her client implemented company-wide to improve operations and compliance with permit requirements.
Stephanie joined with Midwest AWMA board in 2016 and quickly accepted the challenges of leadership, becoming Vice Chair in 2018 and as Chair for the Midwest Section in 2019 and 2020. In both positions, she was responsible for managing/coordinating the annual Midwest AWMA conference, a big job. She continues to serve the Midwest AWMA Chapter in a leadership role.
Stephanie has been the lead for the Young Professionals (YP) group in the SCS Kansas City office for several years. Her responsibilities include coordinating YP networking events and coordinating with the corporate YP group to support and mentor new YPs entering the workforce.
Tia Jeter, Stephanie’s manager says,
I have full confidence in Stephanie and her abilities and do not hesitate to let her take the lead on projects as I know the work quality she produces. She is a dedicated and key member of our SCS team. She is technically very strong and dependable, and co-workers know she will get the job done and stay on top of the client’s needs. She has done a great job getting involved with both SCS groups, the YP association, and the AWMA board.
MasterMold, LLC makes component parts for manufacturers of recreational vehicles, utility equipment, and agricultural equipment who use the components in their end products. Because of the wide variety of industries and customers it serves, MasterMold must be poised to respond to its customers’ growth by increasing production levels on demand.
Executive Vice President Jon Butts manages environmental compliance at three production facilities. “Environmental management is just one of the many hats I wear,” says Butts. MasterMold has multiple environmental needs. Permitting is high on Butts’ list, and so is passing routine inspections.
To help MasterMold meet its environmental compliance needs, the SCS Engineers team assessed the company’s air permitting needs with an eye toward future increases in customer demand. The team helped turn around a permit application quickly so MasterMold could continue to meet its customers’ production expectations without interruption and remain compliant with environmental rules and regulations. Butts stated:
Then SCS Engineers helped me collect and organize data for emission calculations in one place. They created an easy-to-use tool that my staff updates monthly so we’re prepared for an on-site inspection anytime. I can demonstrate compliance, pass inspections quickly, and get back to focusing on my customers.
Butts got the opportunity to test the new tool during the company’s latest inspections. MasterMold has undergone routine inspections by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA). Both agencies checked the company’s compliance status with its air permit at its largest plants. “I had everything organized right at my fingertips,” Butts says. “I was ready for the inspections. I now know exactly where all of our emissions come from and exactly how they change over time.”
Thanks to the tool SCS Engineers helped me build, MasterMold passed its latest inspections in just a few hours with no citations. I’m confident I will pass on-site inspections and gain and grow inspectors’ trust in MasterMold’s business practices. Now I’m in a position to influence the process, take proactive steps, and partner with my inspector instead of responding reactively.
—Jon Butts, Executive Vice President, MasterMold, LLC | Johnson Creek, WI
Article by Cheryl Moran, CHMM
Technological advances in traditional printing and the advent of digital printing can make it more challenging to know when you need an air permit and which permit is best for your operations.
There are two main activities that may trigger air permitting – construction and operation; each of these comes with its own permitting requirements. Always check to see if you are required to apply for a construction permit before bringing new equipment on site. Once a source is installed, an operating permit will be necessary, which is the focus of this article.
Federal Title V operating permits (also referred to as Part 70 permits) are required for any facility that is considered a “major source” of air pollution. For purposes of operating permits only, a major source is a facility that has the potential to emit (PTE) more than 100 tons per year (tpy) of any criteria pollutant; volatile organic compounds (VOC), carbon monoxide (CO), nitrogen oxides (NOx), sulfur dioxide (SO2), particulate matter less than 10 microns (PM10), or more than 10 tons of any individual hazardous air pollutant (HAP) or more than 25 tpy of combined HAPs . Permitting thresholds are lower for facilities located in non-attainment areas.
Some facilities take limits on material throughputs, hours of operation, or emissions in order to artificially lower their PTE to qualify for a Federally Enforceable State Operating Permit (FESOP). These permits are also called “synthetic minor” permits.
Facilities that do not exceed federal permitting thresholds may still need to acquire a state operating permit. State permitting programs have more options than ever before and several states are summarized below.
All “emission units” are required to secure an air permit, or register with the Illinois EPA, even very small sources of air pollution. An “emission unit” is any piece of equipment located at an emission source that has a potential to emit air pollution. Registration of Smaller Sources (ROSS) is for operations that emit less than 5 tpy of combined criteria pollutants. Sources with a potential to emit more than 5 tpy, but whose emissions are less than the threshold for a FESOP, may qualify for a “life-time” operating permit.
Visit for more information on the Illinois EPA permitting program.
ROP Type A Registration Permit is for facilities with actual emissions of less than 25 tpy for criteria pollutants and 6.25 tons per year for HAPs.
ROP Type B Registration Permit is for facilities with actual emissions of less than 50 tpy for criteria pollutants and 12.5 tpy for HAPs.
ROP C Registration Permit for Printers is only available to printers. To qualify for this permit, emissions of each criteria pollutant are limited to 25 tons per year, and HAPs are limited to 12.5 tons per year.
General Operation Permit (GOP) for Printers applies to digital, screen, lithographic web printing (both heatset and coldset), and lithographic sheetfed printing.
Source Specific Operating Agreement for Surface Coating or Graphic Arts Operations is available to printers with total VOC and HAPs that do not exceed 15 lb/day (7 lb/day in select counties).
Permit by Rule may be used for facilities that qualify for an operating agreement with criteria pollutant and HAP emissions that do not exceed 20% of the major source limits.
Find more on the Indiana permit options at http://www.in.gov/idem/airquality.
Whether you are applying for a state operating permit, or a federal operating permit, all applications will go through your state environmental regulatory agency.
 For construction permitting purposes, the thresholds that define a “major source” are typically higher than the operating permit thresholds.
Cheryl Moran is a Project Manager with SCS Engineers with more than 20 years of experience in the printing industry. She is a Certified Hazardous Materials Manager (CHMM) and has worked with air, water, and waste issues including permitting, environmental recordkeeping, reporting and monitoring programs, hazardous waste management, environmental compliance audits, and sustainability programs.
Ann O’Brien is a Project Manager with SCS Engineers. During her 32-year career in the printing industry she was responsible for environmental compliance programs, including, but not limited to, air and water quality permitting, environmental recordkeeping, reporting and monitoring programs, hazardous waste management, environmental compliance audits, and environmental site assessments and due diligence associated with real estate transactions and corporate acquisitions.
This is the third and final article in a series of our interview with representatives from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Mary Wesling and Robert Lucas, both of whom have extensive experience with Risk Management Plan – RMP implementation and enforcement. The interview continues the discussion of recognized and generally accepted good engineering practices – RAGAGEPs, Process Safety Management – PSM, and EPA resources for help.
Jake Tilley is part of the SCS Tracer Environmental team of RETA certified professionals who work with clients in food service and industrial food and beverage processing.