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​What is an air permit?

The Clean Air Act requires air permits for industrial and commercial sources that release pollutants into the air. Air permits include information on which pollutants are being released, how much may be released, and what kinds of steps the source’s owner or operator is required to take to reduce the pollution. Permits must include plans to measure and report air pollution emitted.

Permits are issued to large sources (“major” sources) and smaller sources (“minor” or “area” sources).

The Kentucky Division for Air Quality is responsible for air permitting in all counties except Jefferson. The Louisville Metro Air Pollution Control District is responsible for air permitting in Jefferson County.

Public Participation

Public participation is an important part of air quality management. The Division for Air Quality offers regular opportunities for citizens to engage in air quality decision-making through public comments and hearings. Find out more on our Air Quality Public Notices page.

The Division for Air Quality maintains an email list for providing permitting information to interested parties. Emails include public notices about draft air permits that are being considered and information on how to provide public comment. To be added to the permitting email list, send a request to Shauna.Switzer@ky.gov

The Kentucky Department for Environmental Protection provides a searchable online database of regulated sources and their permitting activities. Stay informed by visiting our Permit Search Online page.

Do I need an air permit?

Whether or not a source requires an air permit depends on its Potential to Emit (PTE) regulated air pollutants. This step-by-step guide will help you determine your PTE and therefore what kind of air permit, if any, may be required.  For a summary of the different kinds of permits and their PTE permitting thresholds, please refer to this fact sheet

Sources requiring registration or an air permit must receive approval from the division before beginning construction. For general questions about air permitting, contact Shauna.Switzer@ky.gov .

Air Permit Categories

Registrations

Very small sources of regulated air pollutants may not be required to apply for a permit. However, registrations may be required of some sources that emit certain thresholds of regulated pollutants. Sources that are subject to certain federal rules may also be required to register with the Division.

Registration of designated sources is regulated under 401 KAR 52:070.

Minor/State-Origin permits 

These permits are required for sources that:

  • Emit more than registered sources but less than 100 tons per year (tpy) of a non-hazardous regulated air pollutant
  • Emit more than registered sources but less than 10 tpy of any single hazardous air pollutant (HAP) or less than 25 tpy of all HAPs combined

Minor/State-Origin permitting is regulated under 401 KAR 52:040. For detailed information about this process, please refer to the Cabinet Provisions and Procedures for Issuing State-Origin Permits.

Conditional Major permits

Some sources, whose potential emissions would otherwise require a Major Source permit, may choose to use this type of permit if they agree to limit their emissions. For example, such sources might operate fewer hours or utilize pollution controls to reduce emissions below Major Source thresholds. Conditional Major permits are also known as FESOPs (Federally Enforceable State Origin Permits).

Conditional Major permitting is regulated under 401 KAR 52:030. For detailed information about this process, please refer to the Cabinet Provisions and Procedures for Issuing Federally-Enforceable Non-Major Permits.

Major/Title V permits

 Title V (pronounced “Title Five”) permits are required for the largest sources in Kentucky. Title V sources:

  • Emit more than 100 tpy of any non-hazardous regulated air pollutant
  • Emit more than 10 tpy of any single HAP or more than 25 tpy of all HAPs combined

Title V permitting is regulated under 401 KAR 52:020. For detailed information about this process, please refer to the Cabinet Provisions and Procedures for Issuing Title V Permits.

Insignificant and trivial activities

The division's Permit Review Branch maintains a list of "insignificant" and "trivial" activities for use by air pollution sources when submitting permit applications. Insignificant Activities and any applicable requirements to which they are subject must be included in permit applications and listed in the permit. Emissions from trivial activities are not required to be included on permits or permit applications, and are not considered when determining source status or other applicability determinations.

Protecting Air Quality with PSD

Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) is a permitting process that applies to certain major projects in areas that currently meet air quality standards. The PSD program is designed to protect public health and welfare by ensuring that economic growth occurs in a manner that preserves existing clean air resources. Large projects subject to PSD require extensive evaluation to determine the Best Available Control Technology (BACT) to limit emissions from the source.  Find out more about PSD at the U.S. EPA's PSD Basic Information page.

How do I ...

Transfer an air permit?

Sometimes, the owner or person to whom a permit is issued changes. When this happens, please submit the following information to the division within ten days:

These items may be submitted to the division’s Permit Review Branch either through EEC eForms, or by mailing a hard copy to Shauna Switzer, Division for Air Quality, 300 Sower Blvd. Frankfort KY 40601.