May 2013: Office of Air Quality

 This is the fifth article in a series about air quality in general and how it applies to Indiana. I am planning to publish an article every two weeks to cover air pollution topics. This article will discuss the Office of Air Quality.

Air pollution regulations are carried out in Indiana by the Office of Air Quality (OAQ) as part of the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEMOAQ consists of approximately 200 people. The office is headed up by an assistant commissioner and a deputy assistant commissioner. The office has five branches.

The Air Monitoring Branch in OAQ has approximately 40 staff. Most are located at our Shadeland office, while a few people are located in IDEM’s regional offices. The Air Monitoring Branch oversees the operation of OAQ’s monitoring network. They pick up samples and analyze them, repair instruments and make sure that all air monitors in the state are operating properly within required specifications. There are roughly 190 instruments operated throughout the state at 81 different locations. Most of this air quality data is collected hourly and posted to the Internet using cellular data transmission technology. The branch also evaluates new air monitoring instruments and methods for possible future use in Indiana.

The Permits Branch of OAQ has approximately 65 staff. This branch issues all air permits within the state. These include small sources up to the largest facilities in the state. Air permits contain all applicable requirements established by state and federal laws. In addition, these permits generally contain limitations and standards, as well as monitoring, recordkeeping and reporting requirements to ensure compliance with those applicable requirements. The level of emissions and complexity of a source will dictate the type and frequency of monitoring and testing necessary to demonstrate compliance with the permit and the underlying requirements. The branch has 43 permit writers whose responsibility it is to draft and issue these air permits. The branch has undergone a recent reorganization to create a new section to process permits. Each of the six permitting sections will process all levels of permits, but each will specialize in specific industry types based on Standard Industrial Classification codes.

The Compliance and Enforcement Branch of OAQ is responsible for determining compliance of regulated sources of air emissions in the State of Indiana through inspection, compliance monitoring , testing, record review, providing compliance assistance and, when necessary, takes appropriate enforcement actions to bring sources back into compliance.

The Compliance and Enforcement Branch has approximately 60 staff, including air compliance and enforcement managers located in four regional offices. The branch consists of three compliance and enforcement sections along with the four regional offices that conduct inspections, respond to complaints, provide compliance assistance to sources, and conduct enforcement activities. A fourth section, the Compliance Data Section, reviews and approves stack tests, continuous emissions, and opacity monitors.

The Programs Branch has approximately 22 staff that focus on state implementation plan development, vehicle emissions testing, emission inventory development, data analysis, risk assessment, air quality trends, project management, technical support and modeling, regarding air toxics and the regulated air pollutants covered by the Clean air Act (CAA).

The core responsibility of the Operations Branch is to ensure that the day-to-day business functions of OAQ are implemented efficiently and effectively. The Operations Branch consists of 12 who are responsible for preparation of program budgets, procurement, billing, contracts/grants administration, fleet coordination, and handling office wide logistics. In addition, the branch is charged with implementing the asbestos licensing and training course provider programs.

Keith Baugues