Unit 7.4: Local Regulation

Local regulation has the potential to have greater influence on AD operations than federal or state regulations.  Although local agencies are commonly required to adhere to state and national standards, they also have variance in interpretations and increased restrictions than those outlined by parenting agencies.  Local and county planning agencies may require information for building plans, grading, water systems, utilities, site plan review, floodplain development, etc.  Local building codes and zoning also play an important role in implementation.  It is difficult to generalize at the local level as codes and permitting requirements vary greatly as the governing area decreases.  In general, local ordinances are common for nuisance and odor emissions which impact permitting or require use of BMP’s.  Construction of AD systems may have strict requirements for environmental regulations and require permits prior to the start of construction.  Additional fire or building codes may be adopted for each region with direct impacts to AD design and operation.  Transport of materials for AD systems may fall under a number of local agencies including the road commission.  County sanitary codes may have restrictions for waste handling and land application of digestate.  County or local ordinances can also have control over air quality permits.  Permits may be required for construction of an AD system as it could be a potential emissions source.  In addition, emissions permits may be required for operation of the AD system, and can require sampling and analysis for specific parameters on a regular basis to maintain that permit.    Regional regulatory agencies may also require air quality permits dependent upon biogas use.  For example, permits may be required for engines used to generate electricity.  Typically exemptions are given based on the size of the unit usually defined by maximum Btu/hr/unit, HP, or kW output.  Emergency planning is typically required for specific materials as outlined by local emergency planning commissions.  In order to determine a comprehensive list for implementation of a digester, owners should contact local planning committees, county/city offices, emergency planning committees, and any other local agencies to ensure all applicable local requirements are met prior to construction.