Air Quality Permits

DEQ's response to air quality audit

In January 2018, Oregon Secretary of State Dennis Richardson released a performance audit of Oregon’s programs for controlling air pollution from factories and other businesses. The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality welcomes the audit, and agrees with the audit findings and recommendations. DEQ’s specific responses to the audit are available here.
Through the means of a Kaizen event, the first objective (audit recommendation #1) is to conduct a lean process improvement of the air quality permitting program.

Air permit backlog kaizen

(slides provided by Pivotal Resources)

Permitting information

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Reference materials


Frequently asked questions about funding air quality permit programs

​State general fund and federal funds pay for the air toxics program. This includes air toxics monitoring, program development, technical analysis, education and outreach. Title V and Air Contaminant Discharge Permit Program fees are also used to pay for regulation of air toxics that industrial facilities emit.
The federal Clean Air Act requires that permitted industrial facilities' fees fully pay for the Title V Air Quality Permit Program. DEQ can only use Title V fees to fund the Title V program. ESCO has a Title V permit. Federal law allows other sources of funding for the Air Contaminant Discharge Permit Program which are fees and State of Oregon general fund. Because other funding sources have become less available over time, fees pay for 90 to 95 percent of the Air Contaminant Discharge Permit Program. To address budget shortfalls, the Oregon Legislature has cut general fund support for the Air Contaminant Discharge Permit Program and shifted more of the funding to fees. Federal funds for state air quality programs have been flat for many years, and prospects for significant increases in federal funds are slim given federal budget challenges. Some states use revenue from penalties for air quality violations to fund air quality programs, but Oregon law prohibits this.
The source of funding has no effect on the administration of industrial regulations. There are a series of checks and balances to ensure all regulations are being implemented properly and fairly. The following procedures collectively ensure the effective administration of Oregon's regulatory process for industrial facilities regardless of the funding source:
  • As a public agency, there are basic procedures in place that ensure the public has access to records and processes. All records are public documents. Permits are issued using a public involvement process using notices and hearings to receive comments. DEQ publicizes public meetings through the local media and by an e-mail notification delivery system.
  • The media plays a significant role in how information is communicated to individual citizens. DEQ works closely with media outlets to ensure articles include the most current and accurate information available.
  • The Environmental Quality Commission adopts emission regulations through an extensive public involvement process involving public notices and hearings throughout the state. EQC meetings are open to the public and a public comment period is part of every agenda.
  • EPA oversees DEQ's implementation of federal requirements, ranging from issuing permits for major sources to conducting compliance activities and gathering data. The formal relationship between DEQ and EPA for the air quality program is captured in a document called the Performance Partnership Agreement that outlines expectations for how both agencies will implement its programs. This is a critical document for those federally-funded programs and programs for which DEQ implements the federal program. EPA tracks the frequency that DEQ conducts inspections, compliance rates and resolution of high priority violations. EPA conducts regular audits to ensure activities are adequately funded and effectively administered.
  • The State Legislature oversees DEQ's work throughout the bill and budget development process. DEQ is required to appear before the Joint Ways and Means Committee when budgets are being developed and must prove public money is being used properly. DEQ works with various legislative committees and legislators introducing bills to ensure proper implementation of new laws.
  • DEQ works with other state agencies when areas of interest overlap. For example, the Oregon Department of Justice has an increased focus on environmental crimes. DEQ worked closely with DOJ to establish an easier way for the public to report and respond to suspicion of environmental crimes.
​Oregon law allows DEQ to recover costs incurred in responding to public records requests unless the requester is entitled to a fee waiver or reduction. DEQ works with the requester to narrow the request and lower the cost. See DEQ's Records Request page for more information about requesting DEQ public records and applying for a fee waiver.
The following two letters from EPA give DEQ the authority to implement federal air quality standards for hazardous air pollutants and new sources: