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June 24, 2013
Amendments for Tribal NSR program

The EPA is proposing an amendment that would add seven sources to the list of sources that are exempt from the Tribal new source review (NSR) program because of their “insignificant” emissions.  The proposal would also clarify the terms begin construction and commence construction as they are used in the program.  Finally, in response to a request from the oil and gas industry, the EPA is proposing to clarify the requirement that operators of certain portable minor sources notify the Agency 30 days in advance of plans to relocate the source.  

Implemented by the EPA, the Tribal NSR rule imposes permitting requirements on new and modified minor stationary sources and to minor modifications at existing major stationary sources on Indian lands.  Those requirements apply beginning the earlier of September 2, 2014, or 6 months after the publication of a final general permit for that source category in the Federal Register(FR).

The rule also covers permitting for new and modified major sources in areas of Indian country that are in nonattainment with the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS). 


According to the EPA, the proposal seeks to add the following seven sources from the Tribal NSR permitting program because they have emissions below the relevant applicability thresholds: 

  • Emergency generators, with specified horsepower ceilings, designed solely to provide electrical power during power outages.
  • Stationary internal combustion engines with a site-rated horsepower of less than 50. 
  • Furnaces or boilers used for space heating and using gaseous fuel exclusively.
  • Single-family residences and residential buildings with four or fewer dwelling units.
  • Air-conditioning units used for human comfort.
  • Forestry and silvicultural activities.
  • Food preparation activities.  An exemption now in place for noncommercial cooking of food would be expanded to include certain types of commercial operations.


In the existing rule, the term commence construction is used in two ways–where construction is prohibited because a source has not obtained a minor NSR permit and for new or modified sources that have received a minor NSR permit and must begin construction within 18 months of permit issuance. 

For clarity purposes, the EPA is proposing to replace the term commence construction with begin construction in certain parts of the rule.  But mainly the proposal would clarify that certain activities are not considered construction activities for permitting purposes.  The excluded activities are engineering and design planning, geotechnical investigation, clearing, surveying, ordering of equipment and materials, and storing of equipment or setting up temporary trailers to house construction management or staff and contractor personnel.


The industry petitioners stated that 30 days is too long a notification time frame because portable sources must be relocated on short notice.  These types of sources include hot-mix asphalt plants, rock crushing operations, and concrete batch plants.  The EPA notes that multiple locations can be and often are preauthorized in permits; in such cases, the permit itself, not the regulatory language, covers the notification requirements.  If such preauthorization is not in the permit, the owner or operator must apply for a new permit.

The EPA is proposing two regulatory changes:

  • A source moving from the jurisdiction of one reviewing authority to another on or after September 2, 2014, is required to notify the reviewing authority at the existing location and submit a permit application to the reviewing authority at the new location.
  • Where the existing and new locations both fall within the jurisdiction of the same reviewing authority, the permit application for the new location will fulfill the relocation notification requirement.

EPA’s proposal was published in the June 4, 2013, FR.

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