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Permit Requirements

Why are permits issued?

As part of our effort to meet the air quality standards set forth by the Federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the California Air Resources Board (CARB), our District has developed an air quality improvement strategy or Air Quality Attainment Plan. District rules and regulations are the mechanism by which the District enacts the attainment plan.

May contain: power plant and building

What are permits?

An air quality permit is a document which authorizes the responsible party to emit a specified quantity of pollution into the atmosphere over a given time period. Generally, the pollution is emitted from a mechanical device, though containers and vessels are also subject to requirements. The permit lists the equipment to be used, how the devices may be operated, how the permitted activity may proceed, and the types of records and reports which must be generated. Depending upon the type of equipment or activity, the permit will contain a list of requirements, known as permit conditions, which the responsible party must adhere to in order to remain in compliance with the law. Examples of permit conditions include: limitations on fuel usage, maximum emission rates, hours of operation, and the specific types of equipment which must be used.

How does the permit process work?

The permit process helps to establish limits on the types and quantity of air pollutants which may be emitted during a given time period. Prior to beginning a new project or activity, businesses and the public must first obtain an Authority To Construct permit from the District. Similar to the building permit process, District staff reviews the permit application to determine completeness, reviews the proposed equipment and estimated emissions to determine if they comply with air quality regulations, and reviews health risk assessments to ensure levels of significance are not exceeded. Permit applications are processed in the order they are received; and, in accordance with the permit streamlining act, are completed and returned to the applicant within 180 days.

Once the equipment or facility is constructed, temporary operation may occur for a limited period of time under a temporary permit to operate. This time period allows for the fine tuning of the equipment or process in order to ensure that the equipment meets all air quality requirements. When the equipment is ready to begin permanent operation, the applicant submits an application for a Permit To Operate. The Permit To Operate establishes the standards by which the equipment must be continually operated. The operating permit is renewed annually after a compliance inspection and an engineering review has been performed by District staff, and full payment of fees has been received.

How do I apply?

Contact the District to receive an application or download the appropriate forms from the website. An expedited permit process is available for an additional fee. This optional service was designed to accommodate members of the public whose projects may have time constraints.

What about fees?

D ifferent fees apply depending on such factors as the type of equipment being permitted and the complexity of the permit. If you would like an estimate of your fees, contact District staff at (707) 443-3093 or

Where do I go now?

This is only an introduction to the District permit process. For specific information about existing rules and regulations, proposed rule changes, or to get started on your permit application, contact our District office. Current Rules and Regulations are available on our website under Rules and Regulations.  The BACT Clearing House Resource Manual, prepared by the California Air Resource Board and published in cooperation with California Air Pollution Control Officers Association, contains a more detailed explanation of the California regulatory system, planning requirements, and the NSR/PSD review process. 

If you have any questions concerning permit requirements please contact the District staff at (707) 443-3093 or