Working Paper

EPA’s New Source Review Program: Evidence on Processing Time, 2002–2014

Feb 6, 2015 | Arthur G. Fraas, Mike Neuner, Peter Vail


As the United States moves forward with future energy policy, it must address and resolve issues associated with a shift away from coal and toward natural gas. While natural gas offers a significant opportunity as an abundant and relatively clean fuel source, optimum development and use of this resource requires an efficient and effective permitting process. A long and difficult permit approval process unnecessarily hinders progress toward energy and environmental goals by delaying or even cancelling both additions to new capacity as well as the upgrading of existing capacity. This study provides information on the time required to obtain permits through the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) New Source Review (NSR) program for refineries and for coal-fired and natural gas–fired electric generating plants. The study finds that processing times for NSR permits for the 2002 to 2014 period varied significantly across EPA regions. They were also significantly longer for coal-fired and combined cycle electric generating units as compared to that for combustion turbines. Finally, processing times were significantly longer over this period for electric generating units and refinery projects as compared to reported permitting times for projects from 1997 to 2001.