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Contact information
For information on the permit streamlining initiative, contact:
Karen Walsh
Air management specialist

Air permit streamlining initiative Air Management Study Group

The DNR Air Program is currently working to simplify and improve the operational efficiency of the air pollution permitting processes while remaining consistent with state statutes and federal Clean Air Act requirements. The streamlining initiative includes revisions to the state rules addressing construction and operation permits (chs. NR 406 and 407, Wis. Adm. Code), as well as limited revisions to the state air toxics rule (ch. NR 445, Wis. Adm. Code).

The initiative involves significant collaboration with the Air Management Study Group, a forum that allows the Air Program to receive input from and provide information to stakeholder organizations. The study group is developing recommendations for the initiative to ensure that the program considers a broad range of interests. The initiative consists of two phases.

First phase (finalized Dec. 2015)

The first phase rule revisions were finalized effective December 1, 2015. This phase involved revisions that were less complicated and could be completed relatively quickly. The Air Program formed four workgroups (comprised of Air Management Study Group members as well as other stakeholders) to develop rule revision recommendations. Each workgroup was assigned specific topics, which are listed in the four workgroup tabs below. The fifth tab addresses the ch. NR 445 revisions. The tabs provided a public forum for Air Program staff to share draft documents and rule language with workgroup and study group members.

As a result of the discussions and work performed during the first phase, a new type of registration permit is available. The DNR has issued a Type B registration permit available for facilities with air pollution emissions up to 50 percent of the major source threshold for each of the criteria pollutants. More information can be found in Type B Registration Operation Permit (AM-531) [PDF]. More information on registration permits can be found on Air permit options.

Additional outcomes of the first phase include a natural minor source operation permit exemption, changes to non-Part 70 source permit expiration, a new emergency engine exemption, streamlined permit revocation procedures for closed facilities, and flexibility to use higher sulfur diesel in ch. NR 445.09, Wis. Adm. Code.

Second phase (beginning late 2016)

The Air Program is planning to convene workgroups for the second phase of the initiative in late 2016. The meeting schedule for workgroups can be viewed on the Air Management Study Group page.

The second phase of the initiative will include the development of an approach to define the term "cause or exacerbate the violation of an ambient air quality standard or ambient air increment," a phrase which is used throughout the construction and operation permit rules. The Air Program developed a list of additional topics that may be addressed, informed by feedback received during public listening sessions. These topics include creating new exemptions (e.g., a like-kind equipment replacement exemption for construction permitting), expanding the usability of the minor permit revision process and creating a process for administrative revision of construction permits. The program will also revisit the exclusions from the definition of "commence construction," proposed in s. NR 406.03(1e), Wis. Adm. Code. This topic was addressed under the first phase of the initiative, but the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) notified DNR that the revised rule language cannot be approved as part of Wisconsin's State Implementation Plan (SIP) as written and additional revisions to the exclusion will be considered during the next phase of the permit streamlining rule.

Workgroup 1

Workgroup 1

DNR lead: Kristin Hart, 608-266-6876

  • Dave Bender, Sierra Club
  • Arthur Harrington, Godfrey & Kahn S.C.
  • Don Huff, Dairyland Power Cooperative
  • Jeff Jaeckels, MGE
  • Todd Palmer, Michael Best & Friedrich LLP
Assigned rule topics
  • Construction activities allowed before permit issuance: changing definition of "commence construction" or changing waiver requirements
  • Emergency fire pump exemption
  • Emergency generator definition: change to be more consistent with federal definition
  • Construction waiver language: small changes to reduce subjectivity in "hardship" clause (no waiver/General Construction Permit (GCP) allowed for projects that have started construction prior to receiving waiver/GCP)
Workgroup documents

Workgroup 2

Workgroup 2

DNR lead: Kristin Hart, 608-266-6876

  • David Seitz, TRC Environmental
  • Scott Suder, Wisconsin Paper Council
Assigned rule topics
  • Ch. NR 407 rule cleanup (minor revisions for clarity and consistency)
Workgroup documents

Workgroup 3

Workgroup 3

DNR lead: Barb Pavliscak, 608-935-1927

  • Renee Bashel, SCS Engineers
  • Eric Bott, Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce
  • Carol Crawford, DNR
  • Ted Cauwels, DNR
Assigned rule topics
  • Natural Minor Exemption: Department response to the new statutory obligation (under s. 285.60(6)(c), Wis. Stats.) to exempt all natural minor sources from the requirement to obtain an operation permit
  • Renewals of State Operation Permits (SOPs) and Federally Enforceable State Operation Permits (FESOPs): permanent permits with "renewal for cause" or longer time between renewals
Workgroup documents

Workgroup 4

Workgroup 4

DNR lead: Kristin Hart, 608-266-6876

  • John Flickinger, Tri-Media Environmental & Engineering Services
  • Jeff Hanson, Wisconsin Power & Light
  • Patti Stickney, SCS engineers
Assigned rule topics
  • Incorporating construction permit conditions as a minor revision of an operation permit
  • Any rule changes needed to support 50 percent Registration Operation Permit (ROP)
  • Removing outdated references to ch. NR 150 from ch. NR 406
Workgroup documents

NR 445

Ch. NR 445 revisions

DNR lead: Jeff Myers, 608-266-2879

The bureau has been consulting with compression-ignition (CI) engine testing facilities to draft minor revisions to the state air toxics rule (ch. NR 445, Wis. Adm. Code). The revisions will resolve inconsistencies between federal and state requirements addressing engine testing fuel sulfur content.

Last revised: Wednesday February 15 2017