Parsons Behle & Latimer’s Clean Air Act practice covers permitting, regulatory and compliance issues. While we have extensive air quality experience in Utah and Nevada, our attorneys have also engaged in air quality matters throughout the country including the states of Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Idaho, Missouri, Texas, Washington and Wyoming. We have assisted a wide variety of industries in air quality matters including mining, petroleum refining, natural gas and a variety of manufacturing. Our air quality practice group is headed by a former registered professional engineer, allowing for the seamless integration of technical and legal facets into effective and efficient solutions for our clients.
Compliance/Enforcement: Our air group regularly counsels clients to assist them in avoiding enforcement problems. This begins with obtaining reasonable and attainable permit conditions, carefully documenting the bases for permit decisions, and seeking agency concurrence as appropriate. We provide focused air quality audits to help ensure a high level of compliance assurance, and when necessary assist clients in assessing enforcement issues, including the applicability of amnesty programs such as state and federal self-evaluation privileges. We have assisted clients in responding to federal investigations brought by EPA under its sweeping authority under Section 114 of the Clean Air Act. We have negotiated fair and reasonable settlements with state agencies and EPA and have utilized creative settlement opportunities such as supplemental environmental projects. We recently obtained a favorable result for a client in a state civil penalty action for alleged air violations, by prevailing on a motion for partial summary judgment and significantly reducing the penalty amount. Parsons has also successfully helped clients facing EPA enforcement actions arising from significant accidental releases and alleged General Duty violations by minimizing penalties or defeating them altogether. Our extensive knowledge of Clean Air Act issues gives us an edge over general practitioners in resolving air quality enforcement matters.
Permitting: Parsons recognizes that air quality permits are often a critical-path approval for a successful project. We have assisted clients in obtaining permits for a wide variety of new facilities and modifications of existing facilities. Our permitting experience spans the spectrum from minor NSR permits (state construction permits) to major NSR (PSD) to Title V operating permits. Understanding the complexities and nuances of the permitting programs has enabled us to assist clients in obtaining fast track approvals for modifications, or favorable non-applicability determinations that allow projects to proceed without permitting. Anticipating the possibility of challenges to key air quality permits, we work with clients in an effort to ensure that the permit record is complete and defensible. Our air quality permitting practice intersects with our environmental litigation practice group to assist in defending permit decisions.
Regulatory: The regulatory landscape at both the federal and state levels continues to be dynamic. Parsons has participated extensively in air quality rulemakings, particularly at the state level but also at the federal level as necessary to assist clients. For example, at the federal level we have submitted comments on behalf of clients (or coalitions of clients) on national ambient air quality standards, the new source reform effort, and on the definition of a “federally permitted air release” as it relates to hazardous substances. We recently assisted a client in the process of developing a federal MACT standard for its industry. Our state rulemaking efforts have included rulemakings related to the Title V operating permit program (Parsons was extensively involved in the Utah and Nevada operating permit programs), toxic air modeling, introducing flexibility into state air programs, state upset exemptions and the implementation of “credible evidence,” and implementing federal NSR reforms into state programs. Our air quality regulatory practice group has both challenged unacceptable rulemakings as well as supported rulemakings by intervening in support of EPA.