Title V Toolbox
One of the primary objectives of the Title V operating program established by the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments (CAAA) in 40 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 70 is to assimilate in one document all of the requirements for which a facility is subject. Through certification provisions, a Title V Permit serves as the primary verification and documentation of a facility's compliance with all applicable requirements of the Clean Air Act (CAA).
At a minimum, Title V facilities must annually certify compliance with the permit terms and conditions. This process is labor-intensive and places significant pressure on not only the environmental staff with daily responsibility for tracking compliance, but also on the "Responsible Official." The Responsible Official is the signing authority for the Title V permit application and, subsequent to permit issuance, all Title V compliance reports. Per Title V, this person must be a corporate executive, plant general manager or a designated representative (delegation is only allowable following formal approval by the permitting authority).
The Responsible Official likely has very little exposure on a daily basis to the facility's environmental performance. Prior to a certification deadline, however, this person must review and sign the signature block of a certification that contains legalistic language, including explicit references to civil and criminal penalties for providing false or misleading information. In addition, environmental staff that delegate day-to-day compliance activities to other individuals must prepare the contents of the certification. The Responsible Official ultimately has to decide what level of time to personally commit to the certification and how best to review and finalize its contents.
Compliance Certification Requirements
The Title V certification process varies by state but generally requires permit holders to classify compliance with every term and condition specified in the permit. These terms include operating conditions, applicable design provisions, work practice elements and emissions limitations. Compliance is to be classified as continuous, intermittent or noncompliance. Facilities must also describe the method or methods used to determine the compliance status.
Given the explicit nature of compliance certifications, documented noncompliance opens the door to a more aggressive enforcement campaign.
In the event that deviations have occurred, the certification document should identify the emission unit for which the discrepancy took place, the applicable requirement against which the deviation occurred, the monitoring method, the duration of the deviation and any corrective actions.
Significant differences exist between federal and state-specific certification requirements, including submittal deadlines, reporting format and the definitions of key words, such as "continuous" and "intermittent." However, in all instances, the Responsible Official's neck is on the line. He or she is accepting responsibility for a complete and accurate certification.
Compliance Demonstration Data
In order to certify compliance with all applicable regulations, several types of information must be reviewed. Numerical data required in Title V permitting includes continuous and periodic emissions monitoring results, process throughput data, emissions calculations and stack test results. Environmental compliance managers must also compile task data, such as compliance task dates and results. The compilation, validation and review of compliance demonstration data can be daunting, but the process is compounded when environmental personnel are responsible for large, complex operations or are responsible for Title V compliance at multiple facilities.
In addition to collecting the data, facilities must also ensure the reliability and consistency of the information. Was the data collected according to the frequency specified in the permit? Are there data outliers and were they handled properly? Was data averaging conducted according to the permit specifications? Were compliance calculations performed according to the methodology defined in the permit? These details necessitate careful data management.
Accurate data management takes on even greater significance in light of the judicial and financial ramifications of noncompliance. In 1999, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) took 3,935 civil judicial and administrative enforcement actions and levied more than $225 million in penalties for failure to comply with the CAA. Given the explicit nature of compliance certifications, documented noncompliance opens the door to a more aggressive enforcement campaign.
Compliance Certification Problem Areas
According to personnel in several state environmental offices, Title V compliance certification reports submitted by sources often exhibit common problem areas. One such difficulty occurs when facilities fail to recognize that Title V compliance is not a once-yearly task but rather a continuous and ongoing process. This misevaluation can lead to inadequate, inaccurate compliance reporting. A representative of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment reinforced the continual nature of compliance demonstration.
"Facilities can't 'cram' for Title V compliance certification as if it's an algebra exam."
"Compliance determination requires semi-annual reporting, continuous emissions monitoring, record keeping and other ongoing processes. Facilities can't 'cram' for Title V compliance certification as if it's an algebra exam," the representative said. Similarly, a representative of the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) said that facilities are treating the certification process like an income tax return -- waiting until April of the following year to assess their compliance, when it requires a daily, on-going commitment of resources.
Another common problem facilities face in compliance certification relates to their failure to meet periodic or continuous monitoring requirements for various pollutants, including particulate matter, nitrogen oxides (NOx), sulfur dioxide (SO2) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Some environmental managers assume that annual stack tests are adequate for compliance certification, whereas Title V permits may specify that facilities must also undertake more frequent monitoring and record keeping. This occurrence is a subset of a larger problem by IEPA -- facilities are not always utilizing the compliance method specified in their Title V permit to assess compliance.
The first Title V certification can be a problem for many facilities. For the year of issuance of a Title V permit, the facility is required to complete a compliance certification for the period from permit issuance through December 31. Even if a permit is issued in December, in the midst of the holiday rush, facilities will have to provide a compliance certification covering this period. Therefore, facilities need to have systems (e.g., record keeping, tracking, compliance demonstration) in place and functioning during the late stages of permit review and be prepared to track compliance with every term and condition upon final permit issuance.
The complex nature of Title V compliance necessitates the development of a facility-specific and/or a corporate compliance management system. A compliance management system is the framework that supports compliance activities, making identification of and compliance with all applicable environmental requirements sustainable over the long term. A compliance management system should, at a minimum, establish a compliance policy and performance goals (e.g., certifying continuous compliance), clearly define roles and responsibilities, commit adequate staff and resources (including training) and call for periodic self-review and improvement.
One indicator of an effective compliance management tool is the ability to respond quickly and accurately to an impromptu information request.
With the prescriptive nature of Title V permits, both plant environmental and general management can be assisted with day-to-day compliance tracking and compliance certifications by the development and implementation of compliance management tools. These computer-based data management systems are developed for a myriad of purposes to facilitate execution of compliance activities, including the following
- Compile, audit, average and evaluate monitoring data;
- Calculate and report emissions;
- Send "red flags" via e-mail to indicate approaching (and exceeded) permit limits;
- Track permit and regulatory requirements;
- Determine and document the applicability of regulations;
- Track compliance activities;
- Communicate task deadlines through e-mail systems; and
- Warehouse pertinent documents (permit applications, equipment inventories, stack test results, annual emission inventories, etc.).
Compliance management tools have applications across every industry affected by Title V permitting. For example, a large chemical plant that has 1,500 emission sources will likely require environmental managers to track 40,000 applicable requirements and 3,000 compliance tasks. When generating and storing such a high volume of information, responsible officials run an almost-unavoidable risk of human error. However, an effective compliance management tool can calculate emissions at each source, catalogue the compliance tasks and store all the information in a central location. Custom reports can be generated to satisfy internal- and regulator-specified reporting requirements.
State agencies accept the practice of electronic record keeping. In fact, many states have permit provisions for electronic records. In Illinois, standard permit record-keeping language includes the statement: "Any records retained in electronic format (e.g., computer), shall be capable of being retrieved and printed on paper during normal source operating hours so as to be able to respond to an Illinois EPA or U.S. EPA request for records during the course of a source inspection." One indicator of an effective compliance management tool is the ability to respond quickly and accurately to an impromptu information request. Achieving this objective does not happen overnight; a significant commitment of resources has to be made in planning, designing, implementing and maintaining functional and versatile tools.
As the comprehensive vehicle for implementing state operating permits, Title V contains an amalgam of compliance demonstration requirements applicable to each unit at a facility. Environmental personnel and responsible officials can rely on comprehensive, reliable compliance management systems equipped with compliance management tools to help ensure thorough and accurate monitoring, record keeping and reporting for all permit requirements. Compliance management tools streamline and simplify the annual Title V compliance certification process, giving environmental managers and responsible officials a head start rather than a headache.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's section on Title V -- www.epa.gov/ttn/oarpg/t5fs.html
Global Environmental Management Initiative (GEMI) -- www.gemi.org
National Association for Environmental Management -- www.naem.org
This article appeared in the November 2001 issue of Environmental Protection, Vol. 12, No. 11, on page 34.
This article originally appeared in the 11/01/2001 issue of Environmental Protection.