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Supporting Client with Consent Order Negotiations and Air Permit Application

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Supporting Client with Consent Order Negotiations and Air Permit Application


The Client’s outside council contacted Antea Group requesting assistance with a potential issue concerning air permitting for a biofuels manufacturing operation. The operation began in 2009 utilizing a patented process using a catalytic conversion of triglycerides and free fatty acids into fatty acid methyl esters (biofuel) using methanol. Initial emissions calculations performed in 2009 were completed by an outside consultant and reviewed by the State. The determination was made that no permit was required.

After a methanol spill that was reported to state agencies, the client was contacted by the air division which resulted in numerous inquiries into emissions of methanol, emissions controls using two thermal oxidizers, and further inquiries by the state air division and state attorney general’s office for operations without a permit.


Antea Group initially reviewed the original emissions calculations under attorney-client privilege and determined that the calculations were incorrect as permitting applicability was not determined on the uncontrolled potential to emit methanol, but in fact, was determined based on controlled emissions of methanol; therefore, the client was required to obtain an air permit prior to construction so that the thermal oxidizers could be considered to reduce emissions to below major source (Title V) emissions thresholds as a Synthetic Minor Facility.

In the interim, the State Attorney General’s Office in conjunction with the State Environmental Protection Agency issued a notice of violation and consent order for a potential fine of $700,000 for the operation of the biofuels manufacturing facility without a permit for 10 years.


Antea Group worked with the client’s attorneys and the client to review responses to the proposed consent order. Antea Group also physically participated in two in-person meetings at the state environmental protection agency’s office with representatives of the agency and assistant state district attorneys during consent order negotiations.

During the consent order negotiations, Antea Group proceeded to address action items of the consent order including the preparation of an air permit application, air dispersion modeling demonstration, and development of a Leak Detection and Repair (LDAR) program. Antea Group also worked with the client to develop emission calculation methodologies for the different processes, as well as advising the client and attorney on potential scenarios for the reduction of the fine.

The work resulted in the preparation of an air permit application that was submitted to the agency in several iterations between October 2019 and January 2021, based on comments received from the agency and the results of the consent order negotiations. 

Upon settlement of the consent order executed on February 3, 2021, the potential fine of $700,00 was reduced and the client agreed to pay a fine of $300,000.

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