- Related links
- Other helpful materials
- Contact information
- For information on Construction Permits, contact:
- Ron Binzley
- For information on Operation Permits, contact:
- Barbara Pavliscak
- For information on Registration Permits, contact:
- Registration Permit Coordinator
- For small businesses needing help with permits, contact:
Small Business Environmental Assistance Program
Toll free: 855-889-3021
Air permit options
Air permits limit the amount of air pollution a facility is allowed to emit to keep the air clean and healthy. Individual permits are customized to promote environmental compliance and provide a basis for legal enforcement if permit conditions are violated.
Types of air permits
The Wisconsin air pollution control permit program has permits for two kinds of scenarios: new and existing facilities. For new facilities, construction permits ensure that proposed projects can meet air pollution standards before they are constructed. For existing facilities, operation permits set emission limits and establish monitoring, record-keeping and reporting requirements. These permit conditions may be revised as facilities expand, replace equipment or change operations.
Source-specific construction or operation permits are written and issued individually for new and existing power plants and other significant air emission sources. In some cases, source-specific permits are required by federal law, such as for major facilities like paper mills, utilities or the larger printing shops. In other cases, the permit reviews may be desirable because they can better help an industry understand which air regulations apply to them and what they need to do to comply with those regulations.
Wisconsin has also developed general construction permits and general operation permits for asphalt plants, rock crushing facilities and various types of printers.
Finally, the DNR has developed a registration permit that allows small emitters to quickly register themselves for a permit in return for keeping emissions low. The permits contain facility-wide emission caps as well as monitoring, recordkeeping and reporting requirements.
We also have an interactive Permit Primer to help you determine which environmental requirements may apply and what permits you need.
The permitting process is designed to be transparent. Almost all permit-related documents are open records, including applications, modeling analyses and permit drafts. Input from the public and the permit applicant is encouraged throughout the process and can affect the content of the permit. Federal and state laws require all air pollution sources in Wisconsin to have a permit unless the source is determined to be exempt.
A construction permit allows a company to construct, modify, expand or replace an air pollution source. A construction permit also allows a company to operate the source for an initial trial period. This trial period is used to test equipment and demonstrate compliance with permit conditions. The source may be entirely new or part of an existing facility. Administrative code requirements for construction permits are found in chapter NR 406, Wis. Adm. Code.
A construction permit is not required if the project meets one of the exemptions available in NR 406. For more information, review the Exemption tab on this page.
Construction permit waiver
A construction permit waiver can be issued to certain sources in situations where they can demonstrate undue hardship if the waiver is not granted. Undo hardship may result from any of the following:
- adverse weather conditions;
- catastrophic damage of existing equipment;
- a substantial economic or financial hardship that may preclude the project; or
- other unique conditions on a case-by-case basis.
The waiver request should detail the situation necessitating the request. There is a $300 non-refundable fee required with the waiver request. A complete construction permit application must also be on file with the department.
Companies currently submit applications for construction and operation at the same time, using the same set of forms. The construction permit typically expires after 18 months and can be extended up to another 18 months unless the permit specifies otherwise.
An application for a major permit will likely contain more detail than one for a minor permit. This checklist will assist companies in determining what information to include in a PSD major permit application.
Minor and major sources
Construction permits have different requirements, depending on the permittee's potential to emit certain pollutants and the air quality where the new source is located. For example, a major emission source in an area of poor air quality will probably undergo a more detailed permit process than that of a minor source in an area of good air quality. Definitions of major, minor and exempted sources, non-attainment areas and New Source Review - a process that affects new and modified major pollution sources - are found in the Air Permit Glossary.
Most operation and construction permits contain at least two parts. Part I contains conditions that may be specific, or unique, to that facility. Part II contains the general limitations the permittee must meet which are standard for all stationary sources of air pollutants. As a result, Part II is included with every permit. Because they are standard for all sources, and in the interest of conserving paper, copies of the Part II portion of draft permits are sometimes not distributed with the paper copies of a draft permit package under review. However, the DNR will provide a copy of the appropriate Part II at any time, upon request, or Part II can be downloaded at Part II for Operation Permits or Part II for Construction Permits.
After a construction permit application is complete, the DNR will prepare a preliminary decision to approve or deny the permit. A 30-day public comment period follows, and a public hearing may be scheduled afterward. The DNR has 60 days after the close of the comment period or hearing to issue or deny a construction permit.
Fees for construction permits vary depending on the type and level of review needed. The table below lists many of the most commonly applied fees (effective January 1, 2011). A complete list of these fees can be found in ch. NR 410, Wis. Adm. Code.
|Major source construction (PSD or nonattainment area permit)||$16,000|
|Minor modification at major source||$7,500|
|Expedited review (PSD-under 60 days)||$7,500|
|Modeling analysis (detailed for a major source)||$4,500|
|MACT, BACT, LAER (case-by-case analysis)||$4,500|
|Expedited review (PSD-61 to 90 days)||$4,000|
|Expedited review (non PSD-under 50 days)||$5,000|
|Minor source construction||$3,500|
|Emission testing (initial unit)||$2,500|
|Revision to a construction permit||$1,500|
|Actual based exemption||$1,250|
|Research & Testing exemption||$1,250|
|Analysis of emission unit (per unit, 2 or more units)||$800|
|Exemption determinations (not otherwise specified)||$500|
An initial application fee of $7,500 must be submitted with any application for a construction permit. The total amount of this fee is credited towards the final cost of the permit. A refund of the difference will be made to the applicant if the total cost of the permit is less than the initial application fee.
Source-specific operation permit renewals
Many Wisconsin companies have one or more operation permits. A company may have one operation permit for the entire company or the company may have an operation permit for part of the company, following a construction project. Prior to December 2015, all source-specific operation permits expired every five years and had to be renewed. Now, all operation permits except for Title V (major source/Part 70) permits will no longer expire.
For permits that are still required to be renewed, the permittee must apply for the renewal at least six months prior to expiration but no more than 18 months prior to expiration.
As a facility reviews their current permits some time before six months prior to expiration, it is also a good time to review new options for Actual Emissions Based Exemptions along with other streamlined permit options. For more information, review the Registration and Exemptions tabs on this page before starting your renewal application.
Deciding what type of renewal application to use
If a renewal application is the best option, there are two types of renewal applications: standard and streamlined. The company must submit two copies of whichever application type is selected.
- Instruction Booklet (AM-300)
- Instruction Booklet - Short Version (AM-300 Short) (For companies using the streamlined application process) - This short version contains only the first 14 pages of the booklet, the last two appendices and covers basic information including exemptions, type of permit and some options for renewals. The two tables from the appendices are used to highlight changes to previously submitted applications.
Most operation and construction permits contain at least two parts. Part I contains conditions that may be specific, or unique, to that facility. Part II contains the general limitations the permittee must meet which are standard for all stationary sources of air pollutants. As a result, Part II is included with every permit. Because they are standard for all sources, and in the interest of conserving paper, copies of the Part II portion of draft permits are sometimes not distributed with the paper copies of a draft permit package under review. However, the DNR will provide a copy of the appropriate Part II at any time, upon request, or Part II can be downloaded at Part II for Operation Permits [PDF] or Part II for Construction Permits [PDF].
Standard application forms
The following link provides the application forms for companies that use the standard renewal application process. Each form has instructions on the back that explain how to complete the front of the application form.
- How to apply for air permits
- Streamlined Forms Packet - The four application forms for companies using the streamlined application process. You must complete each of these forms (Forms 4530-100, 4530-101, 4530-102, 4530-134, 4530-136) to submit a streamlined application.
Streamlined application forms
- Appendices M and N - Appendices M and N of the instruction booklet contain the Summary Of Changes To Original and the Check List For Renewal Applications Operation Permit Application. You must complete these two tables to submit a streamlined renewal application.
- Renewal Application Supplementary Forms - Provides the entire set of 36 application forms. You may need one or more of these to add information that you have not previously submitted to the Department or to revise, correct and update information that you are referencing in your streamlined application.
- Current Emissions Requirements and Status of Unit Air Pollution Control Permit Application (Form 4530-130) - Useful for applicants that have to supplement their streamlined renewal application with information on new requirements such as the Compliance Assurance Monitoring (CAM) Rule, 40 CFR Part 64 requirements (CAM) or a Maximum Achievable Control Technology (MACT) rule.
A registration permit allows small emitters to quickly register themselves for a permit in return for keeping emissions low. The permits contain facility-wide emission caps as well as monitoring, recordkeeping and reporting requirements. Registration permits have a review time of no more than 15 days on all applications received by DNR. There are now three types of registration permits.
Both the DNR and companies that qualify benefit from registration permits. The simplified review process saves DNR time that can be used to work more effectively with larger facilities that need a traditional permit. Companies benefit in the following ways.
- Simplified application process.
- Fifteen-day decision on applications for coverage, if there is no existing permit to revoke. If there are existing permits that must be revoked, a 14 to 30 day revocation waiting period is required prior to making a decision on coverage.
- Allows facility modifications without the need for a construction permit.
- Permit does not expire.
- Simplified and less frequent recordkeeping.
Instead of annual emission fees charged per ton of emissions, all facilities with registration permits are charged a $400 annual fee due by the end of every June beginning the year after the facility is covered under the permit.
More information on who may qualify for a registration permit, including benefits and disadvantages, is found in the following fact sheets.
- Type A Registration Permits (AM-364)
- Type B Registration Permits (AM-531)
- Type C Registration Permits (AM-379)
For more information on registration permits, please contact the Registration Permit Coordinator (608-266-7718).
Read through the permit you are interested in applying for to know what your requirements will be once coverage is approved.
- Final Type A Registration Permit ROP-A03/RCP-A03
- Final Type B Registration Permit ROP-B01/RCP-B01
- Final Type C Registration Permit ROP-C02/RCP-C02
If you are ready to apply, it is best to review the appropriate application guide and application form. As you review the information, if you have questions, contact the Registration Permit Coordinator. When submitting the application form, be sure to include appropriate emissions calculations.
- Registration Permit Application Guide: Guide for Assisting Facilities in Applying for Type A Registration Permits (AM-539) - A detailed guidebook to help facilities understand what it means to be covered by a Registration Permit. The booklet contains sections explaining each eligibility question in detail.
- Registration Permit Application Guide: Guide for Assisting Facilities in Applying for Type B Registration Permits (AM-546) - A detailed guidebook to help facilities understand what it means to be covered by a Registration Permit. The booklet contains sections explaining each eligibility question in detail.
- Type A ROP Application Form (4530-156)
- Type B ROP Application Form (4530-183)
- Type C ROP Application Form (4530-172)
- Modeling Assessment Form (Form 4530-156A) as needed
Once covered by a Registration Permit
Facilities who have received coverage under one of the Registration Permits may find the following documents helpful in their on-going efforts to demonstrate compliance with the permits.
- Compliance Checklist (AM-519) assists facilities in meeting the compliance requirements under the Registration Permit.
- Annual Compliance Certification and Monitoring Summary: The registration permit requires this report be submitted on March 1st every year. The first report is due the March following your first full calendar year of coverage.
- This report is filed separate from the emissions report, and used to demonstrate you have met the permit conditions throughout the year.
- There are forms available to complete this reporting requirement. However, any format may be used to submit the same information to DNR.
- Instructions for the forms
- Section A: Annual Compliance Certification Monitoring Report (4530-178)
- Make sure to describe on this form changes to the facility’s operations that affect air pollution emissions, such as any new emission units or other modifications to emissions units.
- Section B: Deviation Summary Report (4530-178A)
- This form, or a document containing the same information, is used to describe when you did not comply with requirements in the permit.
- Section C: Monitoring Summary/Checklist (4530-179)
- This form does not need to be submitted, but can be used to help determine which rules apply to your facility’s operations and compliance status with them.
- Annual Air Emissions Inventory: Complete the report by March 1st every year, unless your emissions are below reporting thresholds in NR 438.
- Start at Air emissions inventory and reporting to learn how to complete the emissions report.
- If your emissions are below the reporting levels, submit a letter to DNR to report that your emissions are small enough to not require reporting.
- If you have made changes during the year, be sure to update the process and device information in the report.
- Type A Registration Permits additional resources:
- For printers:
- Heatset web offset printing press - Excel spreadsheet to calculate particulate matter emissions.
- Review the Small Business Environmental Assistance Program's Environmental Results Program materials. A comprehensive compliance assistance workbook describing how to comply with all DNR regulations that affect small printing facilities in Wisconsin can be downloaded on there.
A general permit is intended for facilities that:
- perform the same or similar operations;
- emit similar air contaminants;
- use the same or similar emission control technologies; and
- are subject to the same limitations, standards, and requirements.
General construction permits and general operation permits have been developed for asphalt plants, rock crushing facilities and various types of printers. The general permits for printers are for natural minor sources, synthetic minor sources and major sources, and include lithographic heatset (web) offset, lithographic non-heatset web, lithographic non-heatset sheetfed, screen printing and digital printing. The general operation permits for the crushing facilities and hot mix asphalt plants do not expire.
Each general permit will have specific eligibility criteria that are spelled out in the permit application and the source-specific fact sheets listed here.
- Easy to get. Permit applications are written in language familiar to facilities within that category.
- Fast. By statute, DNR must make a decision on a general permit application within 15 days of submittal.
- No construction permits required. In most instances, a facility operating under a general permit can install new equipment or modify existing equipment without a construction permit as long as the equipment meets the eligibility criteria of the existing general operation permit. However, replacement of a primary crusher, or the drum and burner of an asphalt plant at the same time, require a construction permit.
- Consistency. For similar sources in Wisconsin, the permits will look the same.
General permits vs. other permits
General permits are standard permits, so if a facility needs source-specific limitations, or cannot meet a requirement set in the general permit, they would need another type of permit.
General construction permits
|Press Type||Facility Operational Status|
|natural minor||synthetic minor||major|
|non-heatset sheet fed|
General operation permits
|Press Type||Facility Operational Status|
|natural minor||synthetic minor||major|
|non-heatset sheet fed|
For more information about General Permits, Crushers and Hot Mix Asphalt Plants, contact Tom Zelinski (414-263-8577).
A permit exemption is a release from the requirement to obtain a permit. The goal of any exemption is to address unintended regulatory burdens that would not provide any meaningful environmental gain. Facilities eligible for exemptions must still abide by all other applicable air quality regulations. Chapters NR 406 and 407, Wis. Adm. Code, list a number of different types of exemptions for which sources may be eligible. In December 2015, the latest exemption option became available with a Natural Minor Exemption.
A summary of these exemptions is provided by the Small Business Environmental Assistance Program.