"Individual" environmental permits are those permits issued on a case-by-case basis and are specific to each applicant facility. Individual permits usually are most appropriate for the regulation of large or complex facilities and sources with a potential for significant environmental impact.
Step 1 - Starting the Process
Before a business submits an application for a permit, it will often meet with ADEQ in a pre-application meeting to explain its plans for the facility, including the processes it intends to use and the kinds and amounts of pollutants that will be emitted or handled. At this pre-application meeting, ADEQ reviews the application process, including the associated licensing time frames and fees, and answers any questions the applicant may have.
Step 2 - Applying for a Permit
After considering input from the pre-application meeting, the business may decide to submit a permit application. Permit applications are often lengthy and typically include a description of the facility as well as the following information:
- How the facility will be designed, constructed, maintained, and operated to be protective of public health and the environment
- How any emergencies will be handled, should they occur
- How the facility will clean up and finance any environmental contamination that occurs
- How the facility will close and clean up once it is no longer operating
Step 3 - Receipt and Administrative Review of the Application
An administrative completeness review begins when ADEQ receives an application. Most applications for an ADEQ permit or approval are subject to licensing time frames, which are review periods required by statute (A.R.S. §§ 41-1072 through 41-1079 ) and set in rule (A.A.C. R18-1-501 through R18-1-525 ) to ensure that licensing decisions are issued in a timely manner.
Licensing time frames begin when ADEQ has received a complete application, including any required initial fees. ADEQ uses information from the submittal package to enter the application into the licensing time frames database, which records and tracks all applications to ensure compliance with the law.
Licensing time frames may be stopped any time during the administrative review phase if ADEQ must obtain additional information or documentation from the applicant. The administrative review ends when ADEQ notifies the applicant that the application is complete or when the time frame expires.
Step 4 - Substantive Review of the Application
Once an application is determined to be complete, ADEQ then undertakes a substantive review to address technical issues related to the application including:
- Technical review of plans, specifications, maps, flow diagrams, operation and maintenance manuals, processes, etc.
- Drafting the permit for public review
Step 5 - Public Review of the Draft Permit
Upon completion of the substantive review, ADEQ makes a preliminary decision about whether to issue or deny the permit or approval. ADEQ issues a draft permit containing the conditions under which the facility can operate if the permit receives final approval, or the agency issues a "notice of intent to deny" if it determines that an applicant cannot provide an application that meets the standards.
ADEQ announces its decision in a variety of ways, which may include:
- Notifying interested parties who are on a mailing list
- Placing a notice in a local paper
- Issuing a news release
Once the notice is issued, the public has 30 or 45 days (depending on the type of permit) to comment on the decision. Citizens also may contact ADEQ to request a public hearing, or ADEQ may hold a hearing at its own discretion. ADEQ must give 30-day public notice before the hearing.
Step 6 - A Final Permit Decision
After carefully considering public comments, ADEQ reconsiders the draft permit or the notice of intent to deny the permit. The agency must issue a "response to public comments," specifying any changes made to the draft permit. The agency then issues the final permit or denies the permit.
Even after issuing a permit, the permitting agency continues to monitor the construction and operation of the facility to make sure they are consistent with state and federal rules and with the application.
Several additional steps can also take place after the original permit is issued:
- Permit Appeals. Facility owners or others may appeal the final permit decision.
- Permit Modifications. If a facility changes its management procedures, scope of operations or the amounts or kinds of pollutants is handles or emits, then it must secure a permit modification. For modifications that significantly change facility operations, the public must receive early notice and have a chance to participate and comment.
- Permit Renewals. ADEQ may renew permits that are due to expire. Permit holders that are seeking a permit renewal must follow the same procedures as a facility seeking a new permit.
- Permit Revocations. ADEQ may revoke the permit if a facility violates the terms of its permit.