Air Quality and Climate Division

The Vermont Air Quality and Climate Division (AQCD) of the Department of Environmental Conservation implements state regulations and the federal Clean Air Act. As part of this implementation, the AQCD monitors ambient air quality and air pollution emissions from sources, proposes regulations to improve existing air quality, ensures compliance with the regulations, and issues permits to control pollution from sources of air contaminants across the state. Within the Division are sections: Air Planning, Permitting and Engineering Services, Field Services, Mobile Sources, and Air Monitoring.

The Planning Section develops and maintains air quality plans and programs to achieve state and federal Clean Air Act requirements, and supports the development and implementation of regulations adopted by the Division.  Primary activities include:  performing a wide variety of data analyses and computer modeling to prepare comprehensive emissions inventories of criteria air pollutants, hazardous air contaminants, and greenhouse gases; implementing the annual point source emissions registration program; producing air quality forecasts; characterizing trends in ambient air quality data; coordinating with other air quality agencies throughout the region; and providing technical guidance to the to the Division on topics including climate change, the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), air toxics, air pollution transport, etc.

Permitting and Engineering Services: Air pollution control permits are required to make sure sources of air contaminants comply with regulations and outdoor air quality standards, and to control and minimize air pollutants. Permitting and Engineering Services issues permits to construct and operate stationary sources of air pollution. These permits regulate activities such as the wood products industries; rock and gravel crushing operations; large fuel-burning equipment; surface coating operations such as spray painting; incinerators, and processes using plastics, rubber and resins.

Field Services: As the Division’s compliance arm, staff members inspect industrial stationary sources and other sources of air pollution such as gasoline service stations and dry cleaners to ensure that pollution control requirements are being met. Staff observe compliance testing as well as Continuous Emission Monitoring System Relative Accuracy Test Audits at Vermont’s industrial stationary sources. This section also provides technical assistance, issues open burning permits, oversees the Fire Training Notification Program, administers air pollution incentive programs for residential heating devices and investigates air pollution-related citizen complaints.

The Mobile Sources Section implements and manages a number of programs and strategies for controlling on-road and non-road mobile sources of air pollution, including the Low Emission Vehicle Program, the Diesel Emissions Reduction Program, the Vehicle Emissions Inspection and Maintenance Program, and the Automotive Technician Training Program.  In addition, the Mobile Sources section tracks and implements federal and state legislation and regulations relative to mobile sources of emissions and fuels; conducts research, training, and public outreach and education; provides technical support to other divisions and state agencies; and participates in a number of state, regional and national committees relating to mobile source emissions and control strategies.

The Air Monitoring Section operates the Division’s statewide ambient air monitoring network for the measurement of EPA Criteria pollutants- ozone, particulate matter, nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide and sulfur dioxide as well as numerous air toxics compounds including many volatile organic compounds such as benzene and 1,3-butdiene,  carbonyl compounds such as formaldehyde and acetaldehyde, toxic metals such as lead and arsenic, and semi volatile organic compounds such as naphthalene and benzo (a) pyrene and Meteorological Parameters such as wind speed and direction, temperature, barometric pressure, precipitation and solar radiation.  Monitoring sites within the network are participants in EPA National Networks such as SLAMS (State and Local Air Monitoring Stations), NCORE (National Core Monitoring Stations) and NATTS (National Air Toxics Trends Stations).