If you have any questions in regards to the above, please do not hesitate to contact our offices so that we may explain the amendments to the provisions of the Code in more detail. Our address is:
Fiddler González & Rodríguez, P.S.C., P.O. Box 363507, San Juan, PR 00936-3507. Our fax (787) 759-3108.
We welcome your questions and comments.
Juan Carlos Gómez Escarce
María L. González Hernández
Pedro J. Reyes Bibiloni
May 17, 2016
SENATE BILL PROPOSES TO EXEMPT INSIGNIFICANT ACTIVITIES FROM AIR PERMIT REQUIREMENTS
Senate Bill No. 1668 introduced on May 9, 2015, proposes an amendment to Article 13 of the Environmental Public Policy Act, Law 416-2004, to establish that emission units that are insignificant activities or insignificant emissions pursuant to the requirements of the federal Clean Air Act and the regulations promulgated thereunder will be exempted from the requirements to obtain construction and operation permits regardless of whether they are located in a major or minor source of regulated air pollutants. The Bill, authored by Senator Cirilo Tirado, also proposes to list the insignificant activities as a categorical exclusion in the environmental impact review process of Article 4 (B) (3) of Law 416-2004.
According to Bill No. 1668, these small changes will reduce the amount and burden of permit transactions that affects the industrial sector, as well as the administrative burden of the Environmental Quality Board (EQB) and the Office of Permit Management (OGPe). The legislative history of the Bill states that the level and costs of administrative resources (technicians, engineers, supervisors, managers, attorneys, materials, time, others) that EQB and OGPe invest in processing a permit application for an insignificant activity versus the permit and process fees collected (approximately $120.00) does not justify the agencies’ intervention to add restrictions to activities that by definition have an insignificant impact in the environment. The Bill mentions the lack of agility in the permitting process and how it is adversely impacting Puerto Rico’s economy.
Insignificant activities are detailed in Appendix B and Rule 206 of the Regulation for the Control of Atmospheric Pollution (the Regulation), as amended, and as part of the adoption of the Title V Operating Permit Program. If the amendment to Article 13 of Law 416-2004 is approved, EQB must amend the Resolution on Categorical Exclusions and the Regulation, accordingly.
The Bill was referred to the Senate’s Environmental and Natural Resources Commission the same day it was introduced.
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