In the United States, virtually every piece of equipment at an industrial facility — major or minor — is regulated in some fashion under the federal Clean Air Act and a labyrinth of state and federal regulations and permit requirements. To make things even more difficult, Clean Air Act regulations are constantly updated and changing to keep pace with our evolving scientific understanding of phenomena such as greenhouse gases, pollutant interactions, and the health impacts of miniscule amounts of hazardous air pollutants.

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At Environmental Law Counsel, we stay on top of regulatory programs and new judicial interpretations to make sure our clients stay in compliance and ahead of the curve.

Who’s Who Legal, Illinois named Pat Sharkey … “one of the premier air pollution lawyers in the state.” (2008)

As Clean Air Act permits often must be obtained before construction or modifications can begin, time is of the essence and there is little room for delay due to an incomplete application, agency foot-dragging, or a third party appeal of a legally deficient permit. Knowing the law can make the difference between getting a workable permit in a predictable timeframe or getting a permit too late with terms that make project costs and compliance untenable.

At Environmental Law Counsel, we have extensive experience in obtaining timely Clean Air Act permits for new and modified industrial facilities, shepherding clients through Clean Air Act regulatory programs to maintain compliance, and defending businesses in EPA enforcement actions and citizen suits.

Representative Matters

Our notable air experience includes the following:

  • Represented chemical manufacturer in responding to USEPA Section 114 Information Request and negotiation of a Consent Agreement Order (CAFO) involving Leak Detection and Repair (LDAR) program compliance.
  • Prevailed against challenge brought by the Sierra Club in PSD permit appeal before the USEPA Environmental Appeals Board, allowing construction of a new coal gasification plant to proceed.
  • Obtained voluntary dismissal of citizen suit in the U.S. District Court alleging “sham” minor source permitting and threatening to enjoin construction of a new ethanol manufacturing plant.
  • Prevailed on Motion for Summary Judgment in a precedent-setting case involving the applicability of generic “Reasonably Available Control Technology” (RACT) to emissions from wastewater treatment ponds.
  • Obtained site-specific regulatory relief for three manufacturers in appeal of USEPA’s Federal Implementation Plan for Illinois in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit.
  • Appealed and obtained revisions to “Best Available Control Technology” (BACT) determinations and PSD emission limits for secondary aluminum facilities in Ohio and Indiana.
  • Represented clients, including major oil company, landfill gas co-generation company, and ethanol plant, in responding to USEPA Section 114 Information Requests regarding Clean Air Act compliance.
  • Represented concrete manufacturer in PSD Construction permit proceedings to build a new cement plant, involving the first application of both EPA’s new greenhouse gas regulations and new Portland Cement air toxics regulations to a cement plant, preparation of an EPA-compliant Environmental Justice Analysis, representation in a public hearing, and preparation of the permittee’s written comments.
  • Obtained North Carolina Utility Commission Renewable Energy Facility registrations for two power plants that had been modified to allow the firing of a fuel mix of coal, wood pellets and tire-derived fuel, including obtaining a first-in-the-nation agency ruling on percentage of biogenic content in tire-derived fuel.
  • Represented ethanol manufacturing plants in construction and expansion permit proceedings and associated litigation.
  • Defended against Environmental Justice claims raised in permitting of new ethanol manufacturing plant.
  • Obtained all environmental permits for a peaker power plant constructed on a “greenfield” site, including a PSD Construction Permit and Low NOx technology exemption from the NOx SIP Call program.
  • Negotiated state and federal permit conditions in initial Clean Air Act Title V permits for five secondary aluminum facilities in four states
  • Advised on permitting of co-generation system located at Title V major source facility, including generating power that is sold to the grid.
  • Developed “master conditions” for Title V permits for Global Fortune 500 manufacturer with eight facilities in one state and provided permitting tutorials for client’s environmental managers.
  • Negotiated contracts and permits for landfill gas-to-energy systems on behalf of owner of two landfills.
  • Directed environmental due diligence for Global Fortune 500 company’s successful 2007 bid to acquire 50% interest in 13 power plants in six states, including valuation of future impact of California’s new SB1368 and AB32 greenhouse gas legislation on two coal-fired plants, of new Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative requirements on plants in the Northeast, and of anticipated federal greenhouse gas legislation.
  • Wrote legal and technical comments on behalf of coalition of Midwestern ethanol associations and their members on USEPA’s Renewable Fuel Standard regulations, including rulemakings involving procedures for implementation of the RFS2 mandate, procedures for RFS2 petitions, and EPA’s first waiver of mandate for cellulosic ethanol blending volumes.
  • Proposed and obtained regulatory exemption from air permitting for plastic extruding processes, streamlining environmental compliance for client and entire industry.
  • Obtained “adjusted standards” for several manufacturing clients, allowing relief from onerous Federal Implementation Plan regulations, including written comments, representation in hearing, development and presentation of expert witness testimony, and negotiations with state and federal EPA regulators and attorneys.
  • Worked with industry association and its members to prepare detailed comments on USEPA’s Consolidated Air Regulations for the organic chemical manufacturing industry, obtaining a more workable regulatory framework for the industry as a whole.
  • Drafted language for regulations to be adopted by the Illinois Pollution Control Board, including regulations pertaining to trade secrets, “Reasonably Available Control Technology” for volatile organic emissions, and innovative plant-wide emission limitations. .