Citizen participation in air quality permitting

A woman sits at a table and writes on a piece of paper as a nearby child colors with markers.

Citizen participation is an important part of developing air quality permits. Before the MPCA issues an air permit, a draft permit is made available for public review and comment. A typical comment period is 30 days. The comment period provides an opportunity for community members to participate in the decision-making process. Public comments may or may not result in changes to the final permit.

When can I comment on a draft permit?

Public notices for comment periods can be found in the local newspaper or on the MPCA public notices page. Comments should be submitted by the end of the comment period listed in the notice.  You can also sign up for notifications by text or email.

How do I find information about the permit?

Review the public notice and draft permit. Make sure to note the dates of the comment period, the contact information for the MPCA permit writer, the description of the facility or proposed change, and what the permit action is for.

Other good resources include the Technical Support Document, enforcement history, performance tests or monitoring reports, and public/informational meetings that may be scheduled during the comment period. You can also call the MPCA to speak with staff working on the project or request copies of the permit applications.

Things to look for when reviewing a draft permit

  • Do you feel something important is missing?
  • Will it be possible to determine if the facility is complying with a limit?
  • Are the requirements vague or unclear?
  • Are there weak assumptions or unsupported conclusions?
  • Is the information accurate and does it match that available from other sources?

What does MPCA want to see in a comment?

Comments usually must be submitted in writing, either through postal mail or email.  To be effective, comments should include:

  1. Your interest in the permit application or draft permit
  2. The action(s) you wish the MPCA to take, including references to the specific sections of the draft permit you believe should be changed
  3. The reasons supporting your position. Try to be specific, so MPCA can investigate the merits of the position.

What does the MPCA do with comments?

  • Reviews every comment and enters it in the permit record
  • Determines whether permit revisions are necessary
  • Includes all comments and MPCA responses in the Technical Support Document that accompanies the permit.

What happens after the comment period is over?

After the public comment period is complete and the MPCA has responded to all comments and made any necessary changes, the permit goes to EPA for their review. If EPA has no further changes, or their changes don’t require another public notice, the permit is issued.