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Indiana Department of Environmental Management

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Chapter 6: Table of Contents

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Chapter 6 - Section II: What is the Purpose of a Permit?

Permits are legally enforceable documents that spell out what entities must do to control pollution or begin construction. Permits are designed to improve compliance and inform companies on the limitations they must follow in order to continue operating. Activities that generate by-products (such as pollutants or waste) that could impact the environment or human health may need a permit from IDEM. Each environmental permit gives permission for an entity to construct or operate a facility or source. The permit may also limit the amount of pollutants that an entity may legally discharge while engaging in the activity. Most permits are issued by the state; a small number are issued by U.S. EPA.

Permits generally include information on which pollutants are released by a facility’s activities, how much may be released, and what steps the facility is required to take to control or reduce the pollution. Permits also include requirements for facilities to measure, record, and report the pollution emitted.

Businesses seeking permits have to pay permit fees, much like car owners paying for car registrations. These fees pay for the IDEM activities related to issuing and managing permits and ensuring compliance with the permits.