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Permits and Standards for Biomass Energy
Introduction
Development of biomass energy facilities in Oregon is subject to required permits and standards. Described below are some of the permits and standards applicable to biomass projects. State and local agencies can assist biomass energy project planners. Project developers should contact the appropriate agencies for the most current and complete information.

Combustion
A land use permit for a proposed biomass combustion facility is handled by the city or county planning department where the proposed facility is located. Project developers must have building permits before starting construction of industrial or commercial combustion facilities. Building permits are issued by the local planning department.
 
The Building Codes Division of the Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services issues boiler permits and boiler operator licenses.
 
Combustion of biomass produces gas and particulate emissions. Companies planning to install combustion equipment or to change to a new fuel type should notify the Air Quality Division of the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ). Depending on the size and capacity of the furnace or boiler, DEQ regulations may require an Air Contaminant Discharge Permit.
 
Dust from transporting, storing and handling biomass fuels contributes to total particulate emissions from the combustion facility site. Facility operators must control fugitive emissions from fuel storage and handling and from pollution control equipment.
 
In locations where federal air quality standards are not met (nonattainment areas), major new sources of a pollutant must offset new emissions by seeking emission reductions from existing sources.
 
Fuel contaminants, such as pesticide residue, wood preservatives, plastics, metals and chemicals, might be present in municipal solid waste (MSW) and hogged fuels from urban wood waste sources. Fuel contaminants can produce toxic emissions when the fuel is burned.
 
Particular environmental concerns arise for biomass energy facilities that burn MSW or refuse-derived fuel. DEQ regulations require most refuse incinerators to have an Air Contaminant Discharge Permit. These facilities can produce emissions of trace metals such as lead, mercury and cadmium. Emissions of organic compounds (dioxins and furans) result from incomplete combustion of MSW fuel. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued regulations in 1995 that include specific limits for these trace metal and organic compound emissions.
 
Supplying excess oxygen and maintaining combustion temperature above 1800° F can effectively eliminate dioxin emissions. Trace metal emissions can be controlled with particulate control equipment and flue gas scrubbers.
 
Special solid waste disposal methods may be required if ash residue contains hazardous wastes. The DEQ Land Quality Division has more information about handling possible contamination problems.
 
Leaching of contaminants in the ash residue from MSW combustion is a potential environmental hazard. Contaminants of most concern are lead, mercury and cadmium introduced into the MSW from discarded batteries. If the levels of these elements exceed EPA limits, special disposal practices are required, such as disposal of the ash in a separate monofill or using landfill liners to prevent the leachate from reaching groundwater.
 
Other potential sources of water pollution from biomass combustion facilities are leachate and runoff from biomass storage piles, leachate from storage of residual ash, and blow-down water used to backwash scale from boilers and cooling towers. Boiler facilities must have disposal permits for wastewater and storm water runoff. The DEQ Water Quality Division can provide detailed information about wastewater and storm water treatment and control.
Facilities that require new uses of water may need to establish a water right. The Oregon Water Resources Department can provide information about water rights.
 
Biomass combustion facilities that generate electricity are subject to state energy facility siting regulations if their generating capacity is 25 megawatts or more. Developers must have a site certificate from the Energy Facility Siting Council before beginning construction of the facility, unless the Council grants the facility an exemption as a high-efficiency cogeneration facility.
 
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission must certify a cogeneration facility as a qualifying facility before the operator can sell electric power to the local utility. The Oregon Public Utility Commission sets rates for sales by cogeneration facilities to public utilities but not for sales to electric cooperatives.

Gasification and Pyrolysis
Gasification facilities convert biomass fuels into combustible gases. Pyrolysis facilities use gasification technology to produce combustible liquid fuels. These types of facilities are subject to many of the same standards and permit requirements as apply to combustion facilities.
 
A land use permit for a proposed gasification or pyrolysis facility is handled by the city or county planning department where the proposed facility is located. Project developers must have building permits before starting construction of these facilities. Building permits are issued by the local planning department.
 
The size and capacity of a gasification or pyrolysis facility determine whether Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) regulations require application for an Air Contaminant Discharge Permit. Contact the Air Quality Division for more information. Incomplete combustion of biomass and char might result in nitrogen oxide and particulate matter emissions. These facilities must control emissions of methane and carbon dioxide that are present in producer gas. Emissions vary depending upon the type of equipment and the extent of gas cleanup.
 
Dust from transporting, storing and handling biomass fuels contributes to total particulate emissions from the gasification or pyrolysis facility site. Facility operators must control fugitive emissions from fuel storage and handling and from pollution control equipment.
 
Solid wastes from gasification and pyrolysis include char from incomplete combustion of biomass, ash collected in particulate control devices and residual tars collected during gas cleaning. These facilities might produce toxic and hazardous wastes that cannot be disposed of in municipal landfills. There are detailed reporting requirements for materials listed as hazardous. Operators must dispose of these materials at licensed facilities. The DEQ Land Quality Division has more information about handling possible contamination problems.
 
Wastewater from gasification or pyrolysis facilities includes liquid discharges from gas cleaning and cooling, blowdown and other boiler wastewater. Operators must control runoff and leachate from fuel storage piles. The DEQ Water Quality Division can provide detailed information about wastewater treatment and storm water control.
 
Facilities that require new uses of water may need to obtain a water right. The Oregon Water Resources Department can provide information about water rights.
 
A gasification or pyrolysis facility that converts biomass into a gas, liquid or solid fuel capable of being burned to produce the equivalent of at least 6 billion Btu per day must have a site certificate from the Energy Facility Siting Council.

Residential Biomass Fuel Manufacturing
Densified fuel manufacturing plants and other facilities that process biomass fuels must have land use permits from the city or county planning department where the proposed facility is located. Project developers must have building permits before starting construction of these facilities. Building permits are issued by the local planning department.
 
Pellet mills and other densified fuel manufacturing facilities are likely to emit particulate matter during the drying process. Other types of biomass-processing operations might have similar emissions. Dust from transporting, storing and handling wood or agricultural waste biomass fuels can contribute to total particulate emissions from the plant site. The Air Quality Division of the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) can answer questions about the need for an air quality permit.
 
Any facility stockpiling biomass feedstock materials such as hogged fuel, wood waste, waste paper or municipal solid waste may need a solid waste management permit. Contact the DEQ Land Quality Division for more information.
 
Leachate and runoff from biomass storage piles can be a potential source of water pollution. A storm water handling permit may be required. The DEQ Water Quality Division can provide detailed information about wastewater and storm water treatment and control.

Biogas
Biogas facilities generally must have land use permits from the city or county planning department where the proposed facility is located. However, farm-site biogas facilities may not need new land use permits.
 
Project developers must have building permits before starting construction of biogas facilities. Building permits are issued by the local planning department.Construction must follow mechanical and building codes.
 
If the facility design includes a boiler, the facility must have a boiler permit and boiler operators must have licenses. The Building Codes Division´s boiler program can provide more information.
 
The Oregon Public Utility Commission can answer questions about federal safety standards that apply to landfill gas collection systems. Such safety standards apply also to biogas pipelines that cross property lines or roadways.
 
Landfill gas must be handled carefully to avoid explosion and fire hazards. The State Fire Marshal´s Office can provide information about fire safety.
 
Anaerobic digester facilities must not discharge untreated liquid effluents into state waters. Disposal of leachate water is an environmental concern at landfill gas facilities. Gas cleaning often involves alkaline water scrubbing systems, and the effluents from such systems are high in dissolved solids and nutrients. The Water Quality Division of the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) can provide detailed information about wastewater and storm water treatment and control.
 
Anaerobic digesters produce sludge. The DEQ Land Quality Division issues solid waste disposal permits for sludge that is not applied on agricultural land.
 
Feedlots and dairies can reduce odor emissions by operating an anaerobic digester. The Oregon Department of Agriculture regulates the operation of feedlots, including dairies, and issues confined animal permits.
 
Large feedlot operations may need a groundwater use permit from the Oregon Water Resources Department.

Ethanol Production
An ethanol production facility must have local and state permits. The facility must also have a federal alcohol production permit from the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.
 
A land use permit for a proposed ethanol production facility is handled by the city or county planning department where the proposed facility is located. Project developers must have building permits before starting construction of ethanol production facilities. Building permits are issued by the local planning department.
 
The Building Codes Division of the Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services issues boiler permits and boiler operator licenses.
 
Ethanol is a flammable liquid and must be handled safely to avoid fire and explosion hazards. Facilities storing and milling grain feedstock must take precautions to avoid the hazard of dust explosion. The State Fire Marshal´s Office can answer questions regarding fire safety.
 
Air quality permits are required for discharge of exhaust gases from boilers and grain dryers. Dust from transporting, storing and handling grain or other biomass feedstock is a potential source of fugitive emissions from the ethanol production site. The Air Quality Division of the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) can provide more information about emission standards.
 
Ethanol production produces wastewater that has high solids content, high biological oxygen demand and variable acidity, depending on the processes used. The DEQ Water Quality Division has more information about wastewater and storm water treatment and control.
 
Facilities that require new uses of water may need to obtain a water right. The Oregon Water Resources Department can provide information about water rights.
 
A production facility that converts biomass into liquid ethanol fuel capable of being burned to produce the equivalent of at least 6 billion Btu per day must have a site certificate from the Energy Facility Siting Council. Facilities producing liquid fuel from grain, whey or potatoes and meeting certain criteria may be exempt from this requirement.

Biodiesel Production
A land use permit for a proposed commercial-scale biodiesel production facility is handled by the city or county planning department where the proposed facility is located. Project developers must have building permits before starting construction biodiesel production facilities. Building permits are issued by the local planning department.
 
The Building Codes Division of the Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services issues boiler permits and boiler operator licenses.
 
Transportation, handling and storage of agricultural oilseed feedstock are potential sources of particulate matter emissions. If the facility design includes combustion as the source of process heat, the facility must have equipment to control gaseous and particulate matter emissions. The Air Quality Division of the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) can provide information about air quality permits.
 
Project developers must plan for proper disposal of solid wastes from oil extraction and biodiesel production. The DEQ Land Quality Division can answer questions about proper disposal of these wastes. The Water Quality Division can provide information about wastewater and storm water treatment and control.
 
Facilities that require new uses of water may need to obtain a water right. The Oregon Water Resources Department can provide information about water rights.
 
A production facility that converts biomass into liquid biodiesel fuel capable of being burned to produce the equivalent of at least 6 billion Btu per day must have a site certificate from the Energy Facility Siting Council.

Methanol Production
Permit requirements for facilities that convert biomass feedstock to methanol are similar to permit requirements for gasifiers and ethanol production facilities. A methanol production facility must have local and state permits. The facility must also have a federal alcohol production permit from the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.
 
A land use permit for a proposed methanol production facility is handled by the city or county planning department where the proposed facility is located. Project developers must have building permits before starting construction of methanol production facilities. Building permits are issued by the local planning department.
 
The Building Codes Division of the Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services issues boiler permits and boiler operator licenses.
 
Methanol is a flammable liquid and must be handled safely to avoid fire and explosion hazards. The State Fire Marshal´s Office can answer questions regarding fire safety.
 
Air quality permits are required for discharge of exhaust gases from boilers. Dust from transporting, storing and handling wood, agricultural residues and other biomass feedstock can be a source of fugitive emissions from methanol production facilities. The Air Quality Division of the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) can provide more information about emission standards.
 
Project developers must plan for disposal of wastewater and control of runoff and leachate from fuel storage piles. The DEQ Water Quality Division can provide information about wastewater and storm water treatment and control.
 
Facilities that require new uses of water may need to obtain a water right. The Oregon Water Resources Department can provide information about water rights.
 
A production facility that converts biomass into liquid methanol fuel capable of being burned to produce the equivalent of at least 6 billion Btu per day must have a site certificate from the Energy Facility Siting Council.