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Air Quality Update
June, 2009, Vol 12, No 2
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The Air Quality Advisory Council held its April 2009 meeting at the Tulsa Campus of Oklahoma State University. Several rule change proposals were considered, and DEQ staff made presentations.

Council members voted to recommend the proposed revocation of Subchapter 15, Motor Vehicle Pollution Control Devices, to the Environmental Quality Board (EQB) at its August 2009 meeting. Leon Ashford, Environmental Programs Specialist with the DEQ's Air Quality Division (AQD), explained to the council that the Department actually lacks the legal authority to enforce this rule. He assured the group that revocation of the rule would not change the federal prohibition on tampering with or removing emission control equipment from motor vehicles in Oklahoma.

Also recommended to the EQB by the Council were proposed changes to Appendix E: Primary Ambient Air Quality Standards, and Appendix F: Secondary Ambient Air Quality Standards, to make Oklahoma’s standards for lead as protective as the new national standards. The new, tighter standards reduce the primary and secondary standards from 1.50 to 0.15 micrograms per cubic meter, and change the form of the measurement from a quarterly average to a rolling 3-month average.

Proposed changes to Subchapter 17: Incinerators, were presented by Max Price, Environmental Programs Specialist with the DEQ's Air Quality Division. Mr. Price indicated that this proposal represents the first step in an ongoing project to harmonize the language and structure in different parts of the rule. With each of the six parts of the rule having been constructed at different times, the inconsistency in language and structure could lead to misinterpretations of the rule requirements by the public and the regulated community. The Council voted to hold the rule over to the July meeting for further consideration.

Mr. Price also provided a brief presentation on Subchapter 31: Control of Emission of Sulfur Compounds. After a review of the history of the rule's development, Mr. Price noted that DEQ staff will be proposing changes to this subchapter to clarify the applicability and practice of the rule. Eddie Terrill, Air Quality Division Director, encouraged questions and comments from the public. He noted that there will be substantial changes to the rule as it is time to examine it again in some depth.

Scott Thomas, Environmental Programs Manager with DEQ's Air Quality Division, gave a presentation on the Ozone Attainment Status in Oklahoma. He provided a review of the timeline for implementation of the new federal ozone standards, and outlined the minimum requirements if either the Tulsa or Oklahoma City metropolitan statistical area is designated as nonattainment in 2010. More information is available in this issue in the article "2009 Ozone Season."

Several citizens with the Bokoshe Environmental Group, B.E. Cause, shared with the Council their concerns about fly ash disposal near the town of Bokoshe in southeastern Oklahoma.

The next Council meeting will be held at the DEQ headquarters in Oklahoma City on Wednesday, July 15, 2009.


Currently, EPA lists three chapters under review. Comments on Chapter 2, Section 4: Municipal Solid Waste Landfills, were due by May 5, 2009. The comment period on Chapter 4, Section 12: Manufacture of Rubber Products, closed on February 2, 2009. Chapter 15: Ordance Detonation, was reopened with comments due by February 20, 2009. Instructions for using draft sections that have completed the comment period but are not designated as “final” are available on the webpage listed below.

Find more AP-42 information on EPA’s TTN-CHIEF Bulletin Board at


The following article was adapted from a talk given by Phillip Fielder, AQD’s Engineering and Permits Group Manager, at a recent EPA Region 6 permitting and enforcement workshop. It outlines the current workload priorities and timeline commitments of Oklahoma’s air quality permitting programs.

ODEQ Permitting Timelines and Priorities
Over the years, Oklahoma has made a significant commitment of resources to improving and maintaining air quality, in response to both state priorities and federal requirements. DEQ’s main focus is the same as virtually any environmental agency’s air quality permitting program: To protect human health and the environment by issuing effective, enforceable permits without impeding economic growth. On a practical level this requires managing the permitting workload by providing the resources and expertise needed to issue permits in a timely manner, and conduct the supporting activities that go along with the program. Just as certain deadlines apply to the facilities that DEQ regulates, agency rules include permit issuance timelines that are set according to the complexity of the application.

The major source program is at the top of the priority list since, as expected, major sources have the potential for greater impacts. EPA authorized DEQ to operate the Title V Program in Oklahoma under state statutes and regulations with an interim approval in 1996 and final full approval in 2001. AQD has a number of obligations and commitments under the Title V authorization agreement and federal program requirements. AQD must ensure that the permits require facilities to meet all applicable requirements and install and operate all appropriate emission controls, and that the permits are enforceable as a practical matter. Note that while all major sources, (including “potential major” facilities termed “synthetic minor” facilities) are permitted, emissions from many very large sources are grandfathered from emission control requirements.

Under AQD's agreement with EPA, the Division has committed to issue Title V permits and significant permit modifications within 18 months of a determination that an application is administratively and technically complete. AQD submits permit actions to EPA for review, and regularly submits permit tracking data. The NSR/PSD (New Source Review/Prevention of Significant Deterioration) Program entails additional commitments. Under the NSR/PSD program, AQD has committed to issue 78% of the permits within one year of receiving a complete permit application, and take final action on significant permit modifications within 9 months. Again, AQD submits permit actions to EPA for review and provides permit tracking data. These timelines track with agency rules, which require action on complete construction permit applications within 12 months for PSD and Title V Sources. The required timeline is 18 months for Title V (Part 70) operating permits. Deadlines are also specified for minor and significant modifications of Title V operating permits – 90 days and 9 months, respectively. However, the agency has always committed itself to significantly shortening those timelines whenever possible.

Since its inception, AQD has had a two permit program – a construction permit to assure that the facility/process will be built to meet all air quality requirements, followed by an operating permit to account for any changes during construction and to assure continuing compliance with air quality requirements. Construction permits are a main priority, since companies are limited in what construction activities are allowed before they receive a construction permit. Industry timelines are frequently tight, and AQD does its best to accommodate their needs, within the program requirements. Where appropriate, AQD also provides flexibility in the permit to allow for future changes that can be anticipated and accounted for at the time the permit is issued. Timely issuance of operating permits is also a priority, although they afford more flexibility since limited operations are approved under the issued construction permit.

In addition to the major source program, AQD currently permits a significant number of true minor source facilities. While agreements with EPA currently do not include an official commitment for these facilities, state rules include permit requirements to regulate emission levels and document federal rule applicability. Agency rules require action on complete construction permit applications within six months for minor facilities. The required timeline is 12 months for minor facility operating permits. Again, the agency is committed to significantly shorter timelines whenever possible.


The new Lead-Based Paint (LBP) certification year began April 1, 2009. All LBP disciplines (Supervisor, Abatement Worker, Inspector, Risk Assessor and Project Designer) must be renewed annually. The current LBP certification year ended March 31, 2010. The number of LBP professionals currently certified to perform lead-based paint activities is almost equal to the total number of individuals and firms certified in all of last year. This is partly due to the increasing number of LBP abatement projects in Oklahoma and the growing recognition that companies have to be certified as a LBP Firm to bid on lead abatement projects in Oklahoma. In 2001, the Oklahoma Legislature passed the Lead-Based Paint Management Act which stipulates no person or firm can perform or offer to perform LBP services in target housing and child-occupied facilities prior to becoming certified by the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ).

Number of Certified Individuals



Abatement Workers






Inspector/Risk Assessors



Project Designer



Number of Certified Firms



Another development affecting LBP certification is a change to documentation of citizenship. The Oklahoma State Attorney General’s office has determined an original birth certificate and driver’s license are no longer required to document citizenship. Instead, only a signed and notarized affidavit is required. A copy of the affidavit can be downloaded at

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) passed the Renovation, Repair and Painting Program Rule in 2008. This rule will require all contractors to be certified in order to perform renovation, repair and painting projects that disturb lead-based paint in homes, child care facilities and schools built before 1978. Not only must firms be certified, but they must follow specific work practices to prevent lead contamination. This new rule will become effective April 2010. In the meantime, EPA is encouraging all contractors to:

• Contain the work area.

• Minimize dust.

• Clean up thoroughly.

The new federal rule can be read on the web at: Oklahoma is currently pursuing delegation of this rule. If it is approved, DEQ will enforce the provisions of this rule through the current Lead-Based Paint Program.


Once again, ScienceFest was an overwhelming success. ScienceFest 2009 was at capacity with 5,000 students from 4th and 5th grade classes across Oklahoma. ScienceFest is an annual day of interactive science activities designed to promote environmental and conservation education. ScienceFest is sponsored by Department of Environmental Quality, OGE Corp., Department of Commerce, and the Office of the Secretary of the Environment. Additional ScienceFest partners are Tinker Air Force Base, State Department of Education, Oklahoma Climatological Survey, Department of Tourism and Recreation, and the Oklahoma City Zoological Park and Botanical Garden. This year, 170 volunteers assisted with the implementation of the event, including 40 Airmen from Tinker Air Force Base.

Activities were available at 33 locations and represented such things as: energy conservation, air quality, water cycle, and biodiversity. Students had the opportunity to tour the Zoo and participate in the activities at their own pace while learning valuable information to apply in their everyday life.

2009 Ozone Season

Hoping for the best, preparing for the worst. The 2009 ozone season has officially begun, and will determine whether the Tulsa or Oklahoma City areas will be designated nonattainment for the new national ozone standard. In March 2008, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) established the new 0.075 parts per million (ppm) standard for ground-level ozone, the primary component of smog. The estimated value of health benefits for the new standard nationally is estimated to be between $2 billion and $17 billion annually. These benefits include preventing cases of bronchitis and aggravated asthma, hospital and emergency room visits, nonfatal heart attacks and premature death, among others. Next spring EPA is expected to designate areas as attainment, nonattainment or unclassifiable using monitoring data for 2007 through 2009.

Ozone concentrations across the state are monitored continuously at over 20 locations. The Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) operates most of these sites, but Oklahoma tribes also operate some sites. If designations were to be made using 2006 through 2008 data, Oklahoma and Tulsa counties would have experienced violations of the standard. The ozone concentrations measured during the 2006 ozone season were higher than the two subsequent years. Since designations may be based on 2007 through 2009 data that would not include the higher values collected in 2006, Oklahoma and Tulsa may meet the standard.

The charts identify 4th highest ozone values for monitors in both Tulsa and Oklahoma City areas. If the critical fourth highest value in 2009 or “nonattainment breaking point” is reached or exceeded, ozone concentrations at that monitoring location have exceeded the standard.

ozone values for Oklahoma City ozone values for Tulsa

EPA guidance specifies that the default boundaries for designating nonattainment areas could be Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSA) or Core Based Statistical Areas (CBSA). There are four entire or partial such areas in Oklahoma (see map below). In addition to Oklahoma County, the Oklahoma City CBSA includes Logan, Lincoln, Pottawatomie, Cleveland, McClain, Grady, and Canadian Counties. The Tulsa CBSA includes Tulsa, Washington, Rogers, Wagoner, Okmulgee, Creek, Pawnee, and Osage Counties.

Designation Areas

Once an area has been designated nonattainment, Oklahoma may be required to:

1. Perform a complete and accurate inventory of all precursors within two years of designation, and repeat every three years until attainment is reached.

2. Develop periodic conformity demonstrations (prove that new roads and bridges, or improvements to roads and bridges do not exacerbate the ozone problem).

3. Require offsets at a rate of 1.1 to 1 (any new facility locating in the non attainment area must offset their emissions by obtaining emission reductions in the non attainment area at a rate of 110%).

4. Attain the standard within three years (two one-year extensions may be obtained).

DEQ officials are hoping for a mild summer with lower ozone concentrations but will continue to prepare for the possibility that Oklahoma will have one or more nonattainment areas.


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