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An affiliate of Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce

Construction and Operation Permit Requirements for Indirect Sources

Most Recent Action

public hearing was held in Madison, on November 18, 2010.


The DNR’s Air Program has been permitting indirect sources of air pollution since the 1970s. The original program focus was to insure that emissions from automobile traffic at large developments, such as large businesses, shopping malls, and distribution centers, did not result in violations of the carbon monoxide ambient air quality standards. Automotive technologies and motor vehicle fuels have dramatically improved over the last 30 years resulting in reduced emissions.

DNR’s Air Management staff has developed a streamlined approach to managing the indirect source permit program that will maintain appropriate analysis for large scale construction projects with potential adverse environmental impact, while reducing unnecessary modeling and review for approximately 90% of applications.


Section 285.11 Wis. Stats. gives the DNR the authority to promulgate air pollution rules.

Section 285.60 Wis. Stats. gives the DNR the authority to regulate indirect sources by requiring construction and operation permits.

Section 285.60 (6) Wis. Stats. gives the DNR the authority to exempt types of sources from any requirement, if the potential emissions from the sources do not present a significant hazard to public health, safety, or welfare or to the environment.

Proposed Standards

The proposed rule revision will allow a general construction permit option for most indirect sources, providing industry and the DNR with a streamlined approach to permitting. The proposed general construction permit option will eliminate carbon monoxide modeling as a requirement for most indirect source permit applications and will eliminate the screening level analysis for roadway capacity expansion projects. Indirect sources may still request a standard indirect source permit with carbon monoxide modeling.

The proposed rule revision will eliminate the requirement for indirect source operational permits and focus control measures toward diesel and particulate matter emissions. The basis for permit exemptions is proposed to change from total vehicle capacity to total impervious surface dedicated to parking and maneuver.

The proposed rule revision includes an exemption option for sources that agree to adopt superior environmental performance through the Green Tier program. Green Tier is based on a collaborative system of contracts and charters crafted jointly by participating businesses and the DNR. These contracts and charters streamline environmental requirements while advancing new environmental technologies.

A revised rule will save businesses and developers about $270,000 annually in permit fees and project analysis related costs. The cost for an indirect source air permit with environmental assessment is $8,250. In addition, the cost to develop an indirect source permit application, including consultant fees, traffic modeling, and documentation can total between $30,000 – $40,000. In an average year, Air Management processes 9 indirect source air permits, so the total business cost is approximately 9 X $30,000 = $270,000.

The proposed changes to NR 411 will enable the DNR’s Air Management staff to shift efforts from environmental assessment review and documentation to permit assistance and compliance activities. This proposal will also focus DNR staff resources to air contaminants of greater concern, such as particulate matter and diesel exhaust. Lastly, the proposal will align the indirect source permit program with previous streamlining initiatives for sources that have similar operations and air emissions.

Related Documents

Scope Statement – July 6, 2005

Rules Proposed for Hearing, Fiscal Estimate, and Background Memo – September 14, 2010