SU permit regulating air pollution hasn’t been renewed in over 4 years


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A government permit that regulates air pollution caused by boilers servicing Syracuse University and nearby institutions hasn’t been renewed in over four years.

The Title V Air Emissions Operating permit, which is issued by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, groups all federal Clean Air Act requirements that apply to SU into one document. SU’s permit covers emissions and related operations taking place at the university’s Steam Station and on Main Campus. 

The permit went into effect on Feb. 3, 2012 and expired on Feb. 2, 2017. It hasn’t been renewed since. 

Though SU submitted a “timely” permit renewal application, the DEC has delayed renewing it, said Christine Weber, public information and internal communications officer for campus safety and emergency services, in a statement to The Daily Orange. 

A representative from the department confirmed in an email that it had received a “timely and sufficient” renewal application from SU in July 2016, about six months before the permit was set to expire. But the department only issued a notice of complete application for the permit renewal on Feb. 18, a day after The D.O. inquired about it. 

“In general, permit renewal timing is dependent on the unique characteristics of each facility and permit,” the representative said. If a permit isn’t renewed before it expires, institutions are allowed to continue operating in compliance with the existing permit conditions, they said. 


SU’s permit primarily regulates large fossil fuel-fired boilers and technologies that control their emissions of oxides and nitrogen. The boilers provide steam for heating to SU, the Syracuse Veterans Administration Medical Center, Crouse Hospital, a portion of SUNY Upstate Medical University and SUNY-ESF.

The DEC did not explain why it had waited four years to pursue renewing the permit. 

“This is the first renewal of the permit, therefore we are unable to comment on whether this is typical or not,” Weber said. 

Now that SU’s permit renewal application has been processed, public review of the application will begin soon, the DEC representative said. The federal Environmental Protection Agency will also review the draft for compliance with the Clean Air Act. The EPA review, as well as reviews by the DEC and the assessment of public comments, will all be considered when the state makes a decision about renewing the permit. 

Title V, which was established as part of the 1990 Clean Air Act amendments, requires major sources of air pollutants to obtain and operate in compliance with a permit and to annually certify compliance.

David Popp, a professor of public administration and international affairs in the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, said that the Clean Air Act “dramatically improved” air quality at both the local and national level.

“This translates to fewer deaths, less time off from work and lower health care expenses,” Popp said.

SU’s permit incorporates a variety of relevant sections of both federal and state regulations, though conditions for establishing and adhering to Title V permits vary from state to state. In New York state, the DEC issues the Title V Air permits with oversight from the EPA. 

One of the main goals of the 1990 amendments to the federal environmental protection laws was additional accountability for those the Clean Air Act was supposed to crack down on.

“Accountability is necessary for enforcement,” Popp said. “Making monitoring and compliance as straightforward as possible is important for both polluters and government regulators.”

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