TALLAHASSEE – The one-time “fee holiday” offered by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Division of Air Resource Management led to 1,885 fewer tons of emissions entering the air and saved Florida’s small businesses $338,562.
Last spring, the Department announced the one-time holiday for businesses that fall below a $5,000 annual air emissions fee threshold. The Department predicted that up to 300 Florida small businesses would be eligible to benefit from this regulatory cost savings by minimizing pollution. Ultimately, 281 businesses kept their 2012 air emissions low enough to qualify for the fee holiday, with 78 reducing emissions a total of approximately 1,885 tons.
“This initiative resulted in a win-win for Floridians: air emissions were reduced and small businesses saved money,” said Brian Accardo, the Department’s Division of Air Resource Management Director. “Improving environmental conditions can occur while benefiting the economy.”
Small businesses — including manufacturers of fiberglass boats, wood products and large-scale bakeries — as well as large businesses, such as power plants, are required to pay fees based on pollution they emit as part of the federal Title V air program, which is administered by the Department. Federal law requires the Department to spend those fees on controlling air emissions at those facilities. Cost savings associated with the fee holiday amounted to less than six percent of all 2012 emissions-based fees.
The Division’s announcement of the fee holiday last spring allowed Florida’s small businesses with a Title V air permit to manage a reduction of air emissions in order to qualify. Businesses calculate air emissions through the calendar year and were required to submit fee forms to the Department by March 1 to qualify for the cost savings.
Through internal process improvements and with the cooperation of local government air regulation programs, the Department realized cost savings that allowed this temporary financial relief to Florida businesses. Because the Department has improved its implementation of the program, Florida businesses that fund the program can be rewarded by the program’s success.
This system, in which the polluter pays to control pollution, has produced significant environmental benefits. Since 1992, annual emissions of key industrial pollutants have decreased nearly 75 percent, even as industrial production and power generation have increased. As a result, Florida’s air quality has improved.
View this link to get a breakdown of the qualified businesses by DEP regional district office: http://www.dep.state.fl.us/secretary/news/2013/05/Qualified_Companies_by_District.xlsx