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EPA evaluates Maricopa County's clean air permit program, issues notice of deficiency

Release Date: 5/18/2005
Contact Information: Wendy L. Chavez, (415) 947-4248, mobile (415) 760-5422

SAN FRANCISCO -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today officially notified Maricopa County that its clean air permit program does not comply with Clean Air Act requirements, leading the EPA to issue a notice of deficiency.

The EPA evaluated Maricopa County's operating permits program May through December 2004 and found numerous deficiencies. The EPA found that Maricopa County's process for issuing permits was seriously flawed; permits were issued without all applicable requirements; significant permit revisions were processed as minor revisions without public review and comment; the Title V program was understaffed; and the county did not have clear Title V accounting costs.

However, while the EPA was finalizing its report, Maricopa County took significant steps to improve its permitting program.

"Maricopa County is focusing on its most pressing problems and is heading in the right direction by establishing a new air quality department and hiring a new director," said Wayne Nastri, the EPA's regional administrator for the Pacific Southwest region. "The EPA is encouraged by these changes, and will offer assistance to the county to correct the problems and ensure that lasting changes are made."

Operating permits under the Clean Air Act Title V program must comply with federally applicable requirements. When a permit is flawed, a company may potentially emit more pollution than allowed, and expose the business to a potential enforcement action. Residents and industrial facilities alike benefit from technically accurate permits that receive appropriate public notice in a timely fashion.

The notice of deficiency sets into motion a compliance schedule where the county must submit to the EPA a work plan within 90 days or face possible sanctions. The county has 18 months to correct the deficiencies or the EPA will impose sanctions. If after two years the county cannot correct the deficiencies, the EPA will assume responsibility for the program.

The EPA has committed to evaluate state and local air pollution control agencies' Title V programs nationwide to identify good practices, areas for improvement, and ways the EPA can improve its oversight role.

For a copy of the EPA Title V program evaluation report, visit or for information on the Title V air permit program, visit: