Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Group Against Smog & Pollution Report Finds Allegheny County Health Dept. Air Quality Permit Backlog Getting Worse; DEP Making Progress

On May 29, the Pittsburgh-based
Group Against Smog and Pollution issued a report finding the backlog of applications for Air Quality permits under review in the Allegheny County Health Department is getting worse.

However, the Department of Environmental Protection is making progress in addressing Air Quality permits in the surrounding counties and its five other Regional Offices around the state.

“At GASP we not only monitor air quality and challenge industrial polluters’ illegal emissions, we also work to hold air quality regulators accountable for doing their jobs and fulfilling the duties that air pollution laws impose on them,” Executive Director Patrick Campbell explained.

This includes tracking how efficiently these regulators in Pennsylvania – specifically, the Allegheny County Health Department and Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection  – process permit applications for sources of air pollution.

Since 2018, GASP reported on the backlogs that exist at ACHD and DEP’s six regional offices for processing applications for Title V Operating Permits, the permits that the Clean Air Act requires the largest sources of air pollution to have.

“Over the years we’re seen noticeable improvement in the size of the backlogs at ACHD and DEP’s regional offices,” GASP senior attorney John Baillie said, “But, unfortunately, several trouble spots persist. For example, our investigation found the backlog of permit applications at ACHD jumped to the highest it’s been in years in terms of percentage of all major sources with backlogged applications.”

He continued: “It looks like they’ve taken a step back.”

Allegheny County

There are now 23 major sources operating in Allegheny County. Two of those facilities have applied for, but have never been issued– ATI Flat-Rolled Products (which was formerly known as Allegheny Ludlum Brackenridge Works) and Synthomer Jefferson Hills LLC (which was formerly known as Eastman Chemicals & Resins). 

ACHD has failed to act on renewal applications for another six of those 23 major sources within 18 months as its regulations require.


GASP counted 52 major sources under the jurisdiction of the DEP Southwest Regional Office.

One source in the Southwest Region, the Brunner Landfill in Beaver County, has applied for, but never been issued, a Title V Operating Permit. 

Two major sources in the Southwest Region – Hill Top Energy Center in Greene County and Tenaska Westmoreland Generating Station in Westmoreland County – have been constructed and are temporarily operating under the authority of their so-called plan approvals or preconstruction permits but have not yet applied for their Title V Operating Permits (the air pollution regulations permit this during the start-up process for a facility). 

Two more sources – Holcim Solutions and Products US, LLC in Youngwood, Westmoreland County and Hunter Panels in Georges Township, Fayette County – were reclassified as major sources within the last year based on recalculations of their emissions but have not yet submitted applications for Title V Operating Permits. 

Another three sources in the SWRO have renewal applications for operating permits that have been pending for more than 18 months.

The GASP report includes information on DEP’s five other Regional Offices.

Click Here to read a copy of the GASP report.

Visit the Group Against Smog and Pollution website for more information on programs, initiatives, upcoming events and how you can get involved.

Related Articles This Week:

-- Group Against Smog & Pollution Report Finds Allegheny County Health Dept. Air Quality Permit Backlog Getting Worse; DEP Making Progress  [PaEN] 

-- DEP Extends Temporary Air Quality Permits For Shell Petrochemical Plant In Beaver County; Shell Said It Will Submit Full Title V Air Permit Application By June 21 Deadline  [PaEN]  

-- EPA Awards $55.7 Million In Rebates To 21 School Districts For Clean School Buses In Pennsylvania  [PaEN] 

-- Protect PT Hosts 4 Virtual Workshops On How To Protect Yourself If You Live Near Shale Gas Facilities Starting June 11 [PaEN] 

-- Evangelical Environmental Network, Partners Host June 5 Webinar On Pipeline Methane Leaks - Causes, Impacts, Solutions  [PaEN]


-- Inquirer Editorial: Philadelphia’s Black Communities Would Suffer Most From Weakened Air Pollution Rules

-- Post-Gazette: New Clean Energy School Buses Coming To Pittsburgh-Area School Districts

[Posted: May 29, 2024]  PA Environment Digest

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