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Watchdog Update | Newest on DEP’s Air Quality Permit Backlog; GASP Report Spurs WTAE Investigation

Editor’s Note: Big thank you to WTAE Investigative Reporter Paul Van Osdel for his story about this air quality backlog issue. You can check out the story and video featuring GASP’s investigation and analysis from our senior attorney John Baillie here.

Remember when we blogged about the status of the Title V Operating Permit programs at the Allegheny County Health Department and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) six regional offices in May of this year?

Because we have an update: Since then, we’ve learned new information about several Title V facilities under the jurisdiction of DEP’s Southwest Regional Office and want to pass it along to provide you with the most accurate, up-to-date info out there.

By way of background, when it comes to air quality permitting, the DEP’s Southwest Regional Office includes pollution sources in Beaver, Cambria, Fayette, Greene, Somerset, Washington, and Westmoreland Counties.

Since we blogged about the status of Title V Operating Permits under the jurisdiction of that office in May, we’ve learned one facility we included in the list of those backlogged permits – the Equitrans Pratt Compressor Station in Greene County – has shut down.

Another facility included on the list – the Equitrans Hartson Compressor Station in Washington County – became a minor source and has an up-to-date minor source operating permit that was issued earlier in 2023.

Two further facilities – the Shade Landfill in Somerset County and Langeloth Steel in Washington County – were issued Title V Operating Permits in 2022.

So, based on this new information, we count:

  • 50 major sources with backlogged permits are under review by DEP’s Southwest Regional Office

  • One major source in the Southwest Region - the Brunner Landfill in Beaver County - applied for but has never been issued a Title V Operating Permit.

  • Brunner Landfill has yet to pass a stack test necessary to obtain the plan approval that it needs before applying for a Title V Operating Permit.

  • Two major sources in the Southwest Region –Hill Top Energy Center in Greene County and Tenaska Westmoreland Generating Station in Westmoreland County – have been constructed and are temporarily operating under the authority of their plan approvals - or preconstruction permits - but have not yet applied for their Title V Operating Permits (the air pollution regulations permit this during the start-up process for a facility).

  • Another new source – CPV Fairview Energy Center in Cambria County – has applied for its first Title V Operating Permit and DEP recently made a draft of that Permit available for public comment.

Four sources in the Southwest Region still have renewal applications for operating permits that have been pending for more than 18 months:

Here’s a revised summary of what the permit backlogs at ACHD and DEP’s regional offices have looked like since 2018:


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