IDEM Defines “Farming Operations” in Nonrule Policy Document
By Jennifer K. Thompson, Attorney, Bingham Greenebaum Doll LLP
Pursuant to 326 IAC 2-1.1-3(e)(31), “farming operations” are exempt from the requirement to obtain a construction permit prior to the installation of equipment which emits pollutants. On Nov. 26, 2014, the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) noticed, via its website, a new nonrule policy document, Permitting of Activities Located at Crop Production Operations, Air-039-NPD, which explains what is meant by “farming operations” in the Indiana Administrative Code. IDEM defines “farming operations” as the “business concerned with the planting, harvesting, and/or marketing of crops and the raising of animals” and specifically states that it does not include “nurseries, tree farms, or sod production.”
IDEM points out that, although farming operations may be installed and operated without a construction permit, owners and operators of very large farming operations may still need a registration or operating permit for the operation of the farm if the sum of all emissions at the farm exceeds IDEM’s permitting thresholds. IDEM also reminds farmers that certain of its operations, such as internal combustion engines and boilers, may be subject to federal regulations even if a construction and/or operating permit is not required.
IDEM’s authority to require construction and operation permits applies to stationary sources. The NPD clarifies that combines, tractors, pumps and generators (if they are designed to be portable or transportable by means of wheel, skids, carrying handles or dolly) are non-road engines and are not subject to IDEM’s construction and operation permitting programs for stationary sources. Internal combustion engines that are used for irrigation equipment, on-site electrical power generation and emergency generators are generally considered stationary, and could be subject to air permitting and/or federal regulation.
IDEM predicts that vast majority of farms will not need registrations or permits to operate, but it does identify two pollutants emitted by farms that could trigger these permitting requirements, nitrogen oxides (NOx) and particulate matter (PM).
A registration to operate a farm is required if the farm’s potential to emit NOx is greater than 10 tons per year and/or its potential to emit PM is greater than 5 tons per year. Operating permits are required if the NOx or PM potential to emit exceed 25 tons per year. IDEM lists irrigation engines as significant sources of NOx emissions and grain handling (receiving, drying, storage, and shipping) as a significant source of PM emissions.
The NPD includes examples of the potentials to emit from certain types of operations and provides contacts for additional assistance in calculating emissions taking into consideration topics such as seasonal limitations and maximum crop yields. IDEM also points out that certain federal regulations could apply to individual units even if state construction and/or operating registration or permits are not required.
IDEM has also concurrently noticed a nonrule policy document entitled, Permitting of Activities Located at Livestock Production Operations Including Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations, AIR-038-NPD, which describes the activities at livestock production operations that may need permits from IDEM’s Office of Air Quality. Both NPDs are expected to be presented to the Indiana Environmental Rules Board on Jan. 14, 2015.