Does My Business Need An Air Pollution Control Permit?

State Construction Permits

Does My Business Need a Construction Permit?

For a new business or a new emission source, you can determine whether your business needs a construction permit by going through Steps 1 and 2. For an existing emission source, you will also need to look at Steps 3 and 4 below to determine whether your existing source has been modified so as to require a construction permit. For an existing emission source, you should be aware that even if you did not obtain a construction permit prior to the construction of your emission source, you may be required to obtain an operating permit. The Agency recommends that you determine whether you need an operating permit (see the Operating Permit Section on page 8) and apply for an operating permit regardless of whether you obtained a construction permit.

Step 1 -- Does my business have an emission source?

You should first ask whether your business has an emission source or air pollution control equipment as defined in the state air pollution control regulations. The definition of an emission source is very broad and includes almost any industrial or process equipment.

  • Emission source - An emission source is defined as any equipment or facility of a type capable of emitting specified air contaminants to the atmosphere. (See Appendix 1 for specified air contaminants.)
  • Air pollution control equipment - Air pollution control equipment is defined as any equipment or facility of a type intended to eliminate, prevent, reduce or control the emission of specified air contaminants to the atmosphere.
Three important considerations:
  1. If your business does not have an emission source, you are not required to obtain an air pollution control construction permit.
  2. If your business has air pollution control equipment, it has an emission source.
  3. If your business does have an emission source, proceed to Step 2.

Step 2 -- Does my emission source fit within any of the exemptions from the state permit requirements?

The environmental regulations for air pollution contain a list of emission sources and associated air pollution control equipment for which you are not required to obtain a construction permit. Most of these are small emission sources, many of which are located at small businesses. A complete list of current exemptions from air permit requirement contained in the state air pollution control regulations can be found at under Title 35: Subtitle B, Chapter I, Section 201.146.

Two important considerations:

If your emission source does not fit within one of the permit exemptions, you are required to obtain an air pollution control construction permit from the Bureau of Air prior to construction of the emission source.

If your emission source does fit within one of more of the exemptions, you are not required to obtain a state air pollution control construction permit. If it is not clear whether an emission source qualifies for exemption or if a written determination is desired from the Agency, a letter of inquiry can be submitted.

You should be aware that even if you do not need a permit, there may be certification, control requirements or record keeping requirements with which you must comply. Any application for a new operating permit or for revision to an existing operating permit should contain information on all emission sources, regardless of whether or not they are exempted.

Also, Potential to Emit (PTE) calculations should be submitted for all emission sources, exempt or not. These are required to enable the permit analyst to properly determine the type of operating permit required. A request can be made for exemption of those emission sources thought to qualify.

Step 3 -- For an existing emission source, have you made any modifications that trigger the construction permit requirement?

  • Modification: A modification is defined as any physical change, or change in the method of operations, of an emission source or of air pollution control equipment which increases the amount of any specified air contaminant emitted by such source or equipment or which results in the emission of any specified air contaminant not previously emitted. It shall be presumed that an increase in the use of raw materials, the time of operation or the rate of production will change the amount of any specified air contaminant emitted. Notwithstanding any other provisions of this definition, for purposes of permits issued pursuant to Subpart D, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (Agency) may specify conditions under which an emission source or air pollution control equipment may be operated without causing a modification as herein defined. Normal cyclical variations, before the date operating permits are required, shall not be considered modifications.

There is a significant amount of historical interpretation of this definition (35 Ill. Adm. Code §201.102). In some situations, the interpretation can be quite complex. However, under the air regulations, any physical change in an emission source that increases emissions will generally require a construction permit. A physical relocation of an emission source or unit without necessarily increasing emissions will also require a construction permit unless specifically excluded according to the portable emission unit regulations (35 Ill. Adm. Code §201.170).

You may wish to discuss these issues with someone from the Bureau of Air’s Permit Section or obtain professional assistance or both in making this determination.

Step 4 -- If new equipment or modifications cause increased emissions that are at a major source level, are any other regulations triggered?

  • Major source: A major source is defined as any stationary source (or any group of stationary sources that are located on one or more contiguous or adjacent properties, and are under common control of the same person or persons) belonging to a single major industrial grouping and is described in one of the following:

{Potential to emit (PTE) is defined as the maximum capacity of a stationary source to emit any air pollutant under its physical and operational design after any required reduction by air pollution control devices. Note that this is calculated considering the maximum capacity of the equipment (use 8760 operating hours per year).}

  • PTE 250 tons per year (TPY) or more of any air pollutant, i.e., particulate matter (PM-10), sulfur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen oxides (N0x), carbon monoxide (CO), or volatile organic material (VOM), including volatile organic compounds (VOC).
  • PTE 100 TPY for certain industry classifications.
  • PTE 100 TPY or more of VOM or NOx in the metropolitan Chicago ozone nonattainment area, and the Metro East St. Louis nonattainment area.  However, current litigation may revert the Chicago ozone nonattainment area to 25 TPY, the level prior to redesignation as a moderate nonattainment area.
  • PTE 10 TPY or more of any one of the 188 Hazardous Air Pollutants (HAPs) listed pursuant to section 112(b) of the Clean Air Act, or
  • PTE 25 TPY of any combination of HAPs, the Prevention of Significant Deterioration of air quality (PSD) and New Source Review (NSR) requirements also state that the owner or operator of all subject sources complete an air quality analysis of ambient air quality in the source’s area.

The PSD and NSR requirements also state that the owner or operator of all subject sources must complete an air quality analysis of ambient air quality in the source’s area. The PTE of your business and the area of the state in which your business is located determine whether NSR or PSD requirements apply.

If the emissions exceed the major source level, then the piece of equipment or modification may need to comply with federal regulations for PSD (40 CFR 52.21) and 35 Ill. Adm. Code 203, New Source Review (NSR). Under the PSD requirements, the owner or operator of all subject sources are required to apply the best available control technology (BACT) for each pollutant for which the source emits a large enough amount to classify the source as a major source for that pollutant, while under NSR requirements, the owner or operator is required to apply the lowest achievable emission rate (LAER).

If your emissions are close to or at a major source level, then consultation with a permit analyst is recommended before application is submitted to determine applicability of these rules.

State Operating Permit

Does My Business Need an Operating Permit?

Determining whether your business needs an air pollution control operating permit is nearly identical to determining whether your business needs a construction permit. However, you should pay special attention to the explanation of the federal Clean Air Act Permit Program (CAAPP) requirements below, since they do not always follow the same steps. There are also different kinds of operating permits of which you need to be aware.

1. Will you need an air pollution operating permit for your emission source?

  • If your emission source or air pollution control equipment does not need an air construction permit (as determined from Steps 1 and 2 of the earlier section of this document), it does not need an operating permit. (But see Note below.)
  • If your emission source or air pollution control equipment requires a construction permit, it will also need an operating permit. Some qualifying portable emission units do not require construction permits when moving to a new location, but still require an operating permit with other special requirements. For more information on how an emission unit can qualify under the portable emission unit regulations refer to 35 Ill. Adm. Code § 201.170 which can be found under Subtitle B: Air Pollution at the Illinois Pollution Control Board web site.

Note: In a limited number of circumstances, the requirement for a CAAPP permit may still apply even if your emission source fits within one of the exemptions. For example, certain businesses subject to the requirements of the National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) are exempt from the state operating permit requirements (e.g., certain dry cleaners); however, they may emit a level of hazardous air pollutant (HAP) emissions, which triggers a CAAPP permit requirement (See Appendix 1). Similarly, certain engines exempt from the state operating permit requirement may emit enough nitrogen oxides to trigger the CAAPP permit requirement.

2. What Type of Operating Permit Is Required?

If you have determined that you need an operating permit for your business, you will want to know the type of operating permit you need. This will determine the application requirements you must meet, the application forms you should use, and the permit you will receive. The Bureau of Air’s Permit Section, at (217) 782-2113, will help you if you need assistance.

A brief description of the different kinds of operating permits follows below. As with the previous steps, determining what kind of permit you need to obtain may require interpretation for which you may want to obtain assistance from the Bureau of Air. You may also wish to obtain assistance from an environmental professional of your choice.

Lifetime State Operating Permit:

If the PTE for each of the criteria pollutants (NOx, CO, VOM, SO2, and PM10) and for single HAP and combined HAPs is below major source limits, a facility may qualify to receive what is termed as a Lifetime (state) operating permit. This lifetime permit does not require renewal or reapplication unless requested by the Agency. After July 1, 1998, lifetime permits will be issued for all new sources not subject to CAAPP and Federally Enforceable State Operating Permit (FESOP) permitting requirements (see below) except for special circumstances.

Clean Air Act Permit Program:

The CAAPP permit requirement applies to any source that meets one of the criteria below:

  • Any major source;
  • Sources subject to requirements under New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) or National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAPS), if specifically required by U.S. EPA; or
  • Coal-fired electric utilities subject to acid-rain control requirements.

CAAPP permits are most comprehensive type of operating permits. The CAAPP program was mandated by the federal Clean Air Act and is contained in Section 39.5 of the Illinois Environmental Protection Act. It generally covers larger or more significant emission sources from an air pollution perspective.

For sources that previously had a regular state operating permit, the CAAPP permit, once issued, will replace the earlier operating permit. In addition, once a complete CAAPP application has been submitted to the Agency and deemed complete, it is not necessary to renew or revise the regular state operating permit as long as no change has been made at the source that meets the definition of modification on page 7. However, the provisions of the state operating permit remain in effect until the Agency acts on the CAAPP application.

The CAAPP application process is detailed and complex and typically requires professional assistance. A packet of information, including application forms, is available from the Bureau of Air’s Permit Section. The requirements of a CAAPP permit are more extensive than the existing state operating permit program in a number of areas. Public notice and an opportunity for hearing are required. In addition, there is an opportunity for review of proposed permits by U.S. EPA, the public, and affected states. U.S. EPA also has the ability to object to, terminate and reissue permits.

The Bureau of Air’s Permit Section sends letters and packets to businesses that it believes may need a CAAPP permit (including those who could avoid the requirement by obtaining a Federal Enforceable State Operating Permit (FESOP)). However, because the Bureau does not necessarily have information (or enough information) about all of these businesses, you may need a CAAPP permit even though you did not receive a letter from the Bureau. You are responsible for obtaining the permit whether or not you received the letter. In order to make a definitive interpretation for your business, you may wish to contact the Bureau of Air’s Permit Section or obtain professional assistance, or both.

(See the Clean Air Act Permit Program, Section 39.5 (415 ILCS 5/39.5) May 1, 1994)

The owner or operator of a new CAAPP source must submit a complete CAAPP application within 12 months after commencing operation. A construction permit must be obtained prior to construction. The owner or operator of an existing source that becomes subject to CAAPP requirements solely due to a change in operation must submit a complete CAAPP application at least 180 days before the change in operation.

Federally Enforceable State Operating Permit:

A FESOP permit is available in lieu of the CAAPP permit and is available on a voluntary basis for those who wish to avoid the CAAPP permit requirement. Not all persons who are subject to the CAAPP can obtain a FESOP in lieu of the CAAPP. Generally, a FESOP is only available for a source that can limit its emissions in a federally enforceable way so as to keep them below the applicability provisions of the CAAPP program. Like the CAAPP permit, it involves public notice, federal review and other requirements. However, it typically is less costly to apply for a FESOP.

What is a FESOP?

A FESOP is an operating permit that has undergone public notice and contains conditions that can be enforced by USEPA. These conditions can contain limits on the operations of the plant, i.e., material used, hours of operation, and associated record keeping requirements, which effectively restrict the potential to emit (see related) of a source below major source levels thereby excluding the source from the CAAPP requirement.

What is the purpose or value of a FESOP?

A FESOP allows certain sources to restrict their operations in a manner to avoid the requirement to obtain a CAAPP permit. In almost every case, it will be more expensive to obtain and comply with a CAAPP permit.

What sources are eligible for a FESOP?

A source can apply for a FESOP if the potential to emit from the source triggers CAAPP requirements, but maximum actual emissions are below, or can be restricted to remain below, major source thresholds.

How does someone apply for a FESOP?

Application is strictly on a voluntary basis. The applicant must formally request an operating permit containing federally enforceable limits restricting the potential to emit below major source levels to avoid CAAPP. The complete application must propose a set of enforceable limitations on emissions, operations and production, which constrain plant emissions below major source level. The application must also include the following completed CAAPP forms with the other required information or necessary state forms: CAAPP200, CAAPP292, CAAPP 293, CAAPP296. These forms and other applicable forms can be found on the Illinois EPA website or call one of the contacts listed for assistance.

Are There Any Fees Associated with My Business Needing a Construction and/or Operating Permit?

Anyone applying for a construction permit must include a completed FORM 197-FEE estimating the fee, as well as a check or money order for that amount. (This form is available on the Agency website.) Those failing to do so will be notified by letter of these requirements before their application can be further processed. Anyone undertaking construction without first obtaining a permit is still subject to the appropriate construction fees.

What is the fee?

The fee is effective for those applications submitted on or after July 1, 2003, and is determined from the schedule listed in Appendix 2.

In addition to the fees associated with construction permit applications, an annual site fee is assessed and billed after an operating permit is issued. The amount of the annual site fee depends on the type of operating permit and its emission limits.

What about portable emission units?

  • Portable emission unit: - A portable emission unit, is a unit mounted on a chassis with wheels or skids and is designed to be moveable. An example is a portable concrete batching plant defined at 35 Ill. Adm. Code 201.170.

Properly permitted portable emission units are not required to pay additional construction or operating site fees each time the unit is moved.

Special provisions for “avoided” permit fees

If an owner or operator of a site requiring an operating permit fails to remit fees in a timely manner, the facility will be assessed an initial site fee, which is twice the normal amount.

Special provisions if annual site operating fees are not paid

The Agency may revoke a permit for failure to pay the site fees.

For more information concerning your construction permit fee and your annual site fee, please refer to Appendix 2.

For Further Information

Contact the following:

Permit application forms and construction fee forms are available on-line or at these numbers as well; or you may write to the following addresses:

Illinois EPA
Bureau of Air, #11
1021 North Grand Ave. E
P. O. Box 19276
Springfield, IL 62794-9276
Air Permit Section: (217) 782-2113

Illinois Small Business Environmental Assistance Program
Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity
620 E. Adams Street
Springfield, IL 62701
DCEO Helpline: (800) 252-3998

Special assistance is available for small businesses that need a CAAPP permit by calling the hotline number and identifying yourself as a small business requesting assistance.

Appendix 1

Specified Air Contaminant:

Any air contaminant as to which this Subtitle contains emission standards or other specific limitations and any contaminant regulated in Illinois pursuant to Section 9.1 of the Act.

Air contaminants that meet this definition include the following:

  • volatile organic material (VOM)
  • carbon monoxide (CO)
  • particulate matter (PM10)
  • nitrogen oxides (NOx)
  • sulfur dioxides (SO2)
  • lead
  • dioxins
  • furans
  • fluorides
  • hydrogen chloride (as a gas only)
  • hydrogen sulfide
  • sulfuric acid mist
  • sulfur compounds

In addition, it includes most of the 188 hazardous air pollutants regulated under and listed in Section 112(b) of the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990.

Note: Because of the number of contaminants meeting this definition of “special air contaminant,” you are very likely to be an emission source if you have emissions.

Hazardous Air Pollutants

To obtain a current list of Hazardous Air Pollutants, refer to


The definitions listed in this section are taken from “Title 35: Environmental Protection, Subtitle B: Air Pollution, Chapter I: Pollution Control Board, State of Illinois Rules and Regulations,” Section 201.102.

Appendix 2

Permit and Site Fees

Construction Permit Fees

Non-Title V Operating Permit Fees