Office of Air Quality
The Office of Air Quality consists of four branches: Permits, Compliance, Policy and Planning, and Asbestos and Enforcement. Each branch of the Office of Air Quality has specific duties and addresses various aspects of the air program. The branches work together to meet Arkansas’s federal obligations under the Clean Air Act; and protect air quality to enhance the lives and health of all Arkansans and visitors to the State, while fostering responsible economic expansion opportunities.
- Developing and implementing programs designed to ensure compliance with federal air quality regulations
- Developing state rules governing air quality
- Regulating pollutant emissions from industries and facilities through a permitting program that sets emission limits protective of public health
- Monitoring ambient air quality in Arkansas through deployment and maintenance of a statewide monitoring network
- Investigating complaints and violations of State and federal air quality laws
- Preparing and issuing air quality forecasts to help the public limit exposure to harmful pollutant levels
The Permits Branch issues both minor source and major source/Title V permits for new and existing stationary sources of air pollution. Permit Branch staff evaluate permit applications and ensure that each permit meets State and federal regulatory requirements. The Permit Branch also provides guidance for owner/operators and other stakeholders in order to ensure that the Department continues to issue protective permits. Over the past two years, the Permits Branch has implemented measures that have improved communications with the regulated community, tightened permit issuance timeframes, and ultimately produced good permits.
The Compliance Branch is responsible for inspecting permitted and nonpermitted facilities to ensure that all permit and regulatory requirements are being met and that facilities are operating in accordance with all State and federal air regulations. The primary regulatory goal of our inspectors is for our facilities to achieve 100% compliance with environmental regulations. It is our philosophy that this can best be achieved by preventing noncompliance before it occurs. We strive to maintain consistency and convey clear information to the regulated community on EPA compliance assurance and data reporting requirement as we conduct our facility inspections, stack testing, and monitoring. In addition, Compliance Branch team members perform investigations of citizen complaints related to air pollution, observe stack testing, and review submitted reports from facilities.
The Policy and Planning Branch often times sets the tone for the Office of Air Quality. Its primary responsibility is to review and respond to federal regulations by taking into consideration Arkansas-specific facts and data. The duties of the Policy and Planning Branch include reviewing and providing comments on proposed federal rules, producing white papers related to air pollution, developing state implementation plans required by the Environmental Protection Agency, performing rulemakings to update state regulations, and providing technical and educational assistance to the Office of Air Quality.
The Asbestos and Enforcement Branch consists of the Asbestos and Enforcement sections. The Asbestos Section is responsible for conducting inspections on Notices of Intent (NOIs) and investigating asbestos complaints in accordance with Regulation 21. Regulation 21 regulates work practices during demolitions, renovations, and response actions; certifies workers, contractor/supervisors, inspectors, management planners, project designers, and air monitors; and licenses asbestos training providers, contractors, and consultants. In addition, Regulation 21 provides requirements for NOIs; requirements for certificate and license renewals; and establishes a fee system. The Enforcement Section is responsible for the enforcement of air and asbestos regulation in the State. This enforcement is addressed through a Consent Administrative Order (CAO) or a Notice of Violation (NOV). This type of action incorporates an assessment of a civil penalty, corrective actions for violations, and other terms of the agreement into a legally-binding document. Typically, the CAO is the primary response issued in the formal enforcement process for possible violations. When violations of state and/or federal regulations are discovered, a CAO is issued. The NOV is the secondary response issued in the formal enforcement process for possible violations. The main goal of any enforcement action is to help facilities achieve successful compliance with these standards and then to maintain compliance.