EPA Requests Comment on “Exclusions from ‘Ambient Air’”

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has posted to its website a draft revised policy document on “Exclusions from ‘Ambient Air’” and has requested comments from the public. When a source of air pollution seeks a Clean Air Act permit, the EPA or the state regulator looks at the impact of the source on ‘ambient air’ in areas where the general public has access. In 1980, the EPA wrote guidance that said that a source could exclude an area from ‘ambient air’ if “(1) the area . . . is owned or controlled by the source, and (2) access to the area by the public is precluded by means of a fence or other physical barriers.” Although the guidance is not binding, and some states have been more flexible with its application than others, these relatively strict terms have created confusion for small businesses seeking air permits where full fencing is not practical.

The Office of Advocacy encourages small businesses that have or are seeking Clean Air Act permits to review this policy document, consider how it might apply to their facilities, and provide comment to the EPA if, in their experience, the guidance does not provide sufficient flexibility for their operations. Note: this policy and commenting are NOT available on regulations.gov.

  • Read the draft policy here.
  • Submit comments on EPA’s website here.
  • Comments are due by December 21, 2018.
  • For additional information, contact Assistant Chief Counsel Dave Rostker, 202-205-6966.