Regarding the Jan. 18 Under the Dome item “Small firms could get emissions exemption”: Companies will be encouraged to protect air quality, and state regulators will be able to focus on larger sources of air pollution thanks to a rule recently passed by a North Carolina environmental commission.
In keeping with Gov. Pat McCrory’s initiatives to improve government efficiency and protect the environment, the rule will improve air quality while cutting costs and red tape for small businesses.
Under the rule developed by the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality, about 1,200 very small industrial facilities would remain subject to environmental standards but would no longer be required to hold an air quality permit. The primary emissions from facilities that would qualify under the rule account for less than 1 percent of statewide emissions from factories and businesses.
The rule does not remove or relax any existing emissions standards. State regulators will continue to issue permits, conduct inspections and collect data on larger sources that account for more than 99 percent of air emissions from industrial facilities.
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The resources that are freed up by reducing paperwork for very small sources of air pollution will be focused on additional inspections and on larger, more environmentally significant sources of emissions.
Industrial facilities will have to keep and maintain any air pollution control equipment they already have in place, and they could be inspected at any time, whether they are exempt from permitting requirements or not.
Experience has proven that businesses will reduce emissions when they have incentives like those provided in the new rule.
North Carolinians are breathing cleaner air than at any time in the past 20 years due to fundamental changes in our energy sector, including converting coal-fired plans to natural gas to create cleaner and cheaper energy.
The new air permit rule will continue to protect the air we breathe while relieving some small businesses from the costs and regulatory burdens of having air permits.
Director, Division of Air Quality, N.C. Department of Environmental Quality
The length limit was waived.