Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
In the Fall of 2017, the legislature enacted Act 70, directing the Department of Natural Resources to establish a pilot program focused on sustainable development in Wisconsin. This innovative pilot program is a cross-program effort to bring manufacturing jobs back to Wisconsin brownfields.
You can find answers to a list of common questions about the pilot program on this page. If you have additional questions, please email them to DNREDGE@Wisconsin.gov.
- What is the intent of the EDGE program?
EDGE creates a proactive relationship where we provide incentives for those businesses who want to take the next step to engage in sustainable redevelopment.
We provide incentives to companies who leverage the benefits of redeveloping brownfield sites. Manufacturers and municipalities have certainty that the site is cleaned up to a high environmental standard. Community members can be comfortable knowing that their new neighbors are good corporate citizens and are developing and operating in a socially responsible manner. They'll also have peace of mind that the site will not fall to the same fate of contamination.
- What are the participation criteria?
To be eligible for the benefits offered by the EDGE program, a manufacturer must participate in Green Tier, construct a new facility or modify an existing facility that is eligible for a registration permit, and redevelop a brownfield site that has been cleaned up through the VPLE program.
- Who would benefit from EDGE? Manufacturers, Municipalities, or Developers?
The EDGE program provides incentives to manufacturers located on brownfield redevelopments, so buy-in from the manufacturer is essential for implementation.
Developers and municipalities also stand to benefit from this program. Still, they both play a slightly different role because they likely cannot benefit from the air emissions incentives, but they can benefit from an environmental clean-up and from bringing new jobs to their area.
Developers and municipalities can conduct the environmental clean-up to make a site "EDGE-ready," to make the site more competitive in attracting manufacturers to locate on the site. Both the developer and the municipality can maintain an involvement with the site by establishing a stakeholder group.
- Does the manufacturer have to conduct the clean-up to be eligible for EDGE?
While the manufacturer can choose to do the clean-up, they do not have to conduct it themselves. They can locate on a site that has already received a VPLE certificate. This means that a municipality or developer could do the clean-up work to prepare a site for an EDGE-ready development.
- Is the EDGE program available to a company currently located on a site with environmental concerns, or only to a company that moves to a site with environmental problems?
The EDGE program is available in both scenarios, but it is important to note that the construction or modification requirement needs to be met.
If an existing facility is located on a site with environmental concerns, they can secure VPLE on the existing site. They would, however, need to meet the criteria for modifying an existing air emissions source at the facility. A company could also expand its existing facility with new construction to meet that criteria as well.
If a facility is moving to a new site, the company could move to a site with VPLE or secure VPLE themselves. The construction or modification component will likely be met based on the transfer of operations to the new site.
- Can EDGE be applied only to a single facility, or can it be used for a larger development?
The EDGE program has some flexibility to be applied to both scenarios.
On smaller sites with a single facility, meeting the EDGE requirements is straightforward. A manufacturer can either clean up their existing site or locate on a brownfield that has been cleaned up, modify or construct an air emission source that is eligible for any ROP, and join Green Tier.
At larger sites where there is potential for more than one facility, a Green Tier charter agreement can make the site "EDGE ready" for development. This provides an opportunity to encourage manufacturers with air emissions to join on the site. Additionally, this creates a more inclusive structure for those who want to locate on the site and benefit from the EDGE program's marketing aspects, but don't have any air emissions. This concept can be modified to any application with more than one facility, provided that at least one manufacturer on the site has air emissions and joins the program. This is an excellent opportunity to prepare a site for sustainable development activities.
- On a large brownfield property with multiple different facilities, do all facilities need to comply with the registration permit?
To receive the 10-year extension, each facility on the property must qualify for coverage under one of the available registration permits and comply with its own applicable requirements. A facility can include more than one business if they are under the same ownership, on contiguous or nearby property, and are involved in the same or related manufacturing operations. In such cases, the businesses could be covered under the same registration permit.
- What if a company is not under any air permitting requirements? Can they still apply for the program?
To receive the full benefits of the EDGE program, a facility must be eligible for coverage under one of the streamlined Registration Air Permits, because the benefit in law is a 10-year extension from having to implement new air emission control devices on their equipment. This benefit is targeted to manufacturers with air emissions who want to revitalize the environmental components of their property and community.
Facilities who want to receive partial benefits of the EDGE program can locate on an EDGE-ready development along with other facilities that are eligible for the program. This concept allows members of a sustainable development to work together and create social, environmental, and economic benefits for the development and the community.
- Is Tier 2 participation in Green Tier a requirement for the EDGE program?
No, to meet the eligibility criteria for the EDGE program, the participant can join either Tier 1 or Tier 2 of the Green Tier program.
- How can a Green Tier charter be used to advance the EDGE program?
With a large property, there is the potential for participation in a Green Tier charter agreement where facilities can work together on their environmental improvement goals. In this instance, facilities can be part of an EDGE development even if they don't meet all the eligibility criteria to receive the 10-year benefit for their air emissions.
- Are there separate Annual Reporting instructions for EDGE participants?
At this time, participants will be asked to complete their Green Tier annual report, emphasizing their participation in the EDGE program. EDGE-specific information will be included in the next update of the instructions document. Please visit Green Tier Annual Report Instructions for more information.
- How can we get VPLE for our site?
To obtain VPLE, you can investigate and clean up existing contamination on your current property or on the property you will be constructing (if you use your existing property, you must modify or construct an air emissions source to be eligible for EDGE).
Alternatively, you can develop a property that already has a VPLE Certificate of Completion. Municipalities and Developers can go through the VPLE process to exempt liability for the transaction.
- What about PFAS? Is VPLE still a benefit?
The VPLE program continues to provide liability protections for properties that have been investigated and remediated and received DNR approval. The VPLE program has changed to give a liability exemption only for the pollutants that are investigated. VPLE certificates that have been previously issued will remain valid. For the most up-to-date information on VPLE and emerging contaminants, please see VPLE.
- Is VPLE transferrable?
Yes, VPLE is transferrable and stays with the property.
- What benefit does the 10-year extension of air pollution control implementation offer?
The 10-year extension within the EDGE program prohibits the air program from requiring a manufacturer to make changes to air pollution controls because of new or modified legal requirements for 10 years after receiving coverage under their air permit. This provides a significant amount of time for manufacturers to react to new regulations and implement any needed changes to air pollution controls. This time can be used for technologies to develop, cost planning, and deployment of technologies, which can be a significant benefit if state laws do change. This benefit does not apply if the new controls are federally mandated.
- What does it mean to construct or modify an air source and why is that a requirement of the EDGE program?
An air source is any business that emits air pollution. The EDGE program is intended to promote environmentally sound and sustainable growth and economic development by encouraging the construction of new manufacturing facilities or expansion of existing manufacturing facilities. Construction or modification of a manufacturing facility often requires air pollution control permitting. The EDGE project supports streamlined registration permitting to meet air program requirements.
- What is a ROP?
First, it is helpful to understand that ROPs are a type of general air permit that cover a category of facilities. For ROPs, the category is defined by the level of air pollution emissions. The main advantages of ROPs are that coverage decisions are fast, usually within 15 days or less. They offer flexibility to construct new sources or modify existing sources without needing to wait for the review of additional air permits (as long as the facility remains eligible after the changes). More information can be found on Registration Permits.
- So, what is the ROP-G?
The ROP-G is the registration permit that allows the greatest amount of air emissions at 80% of the major source threshold and is the only ROP that allows for some source-specific conditions. The ROP-G is exclusive to Tier 2 participants of the Green Tier Program.
- Is the ROP-G a requirement of the EDGE program?
No, to be eligible for EDGE, a company must be eligible for any registration permit, including the ROP-A, ROP-B, ROP-C, or ROP-G. The ROP-G was created to expand the criteria for those who could be eligible for EDGE.
- Why is Green Tier a requirement for the ROP-G?
Since ROPs are a general permit, they don't lay out the specific requirements like other types of air permits. It is each facility's responsibility to understand and comply with all applicable air pollution requirements. Tier 2 participation in Green Tier provides several assurances that sources covered under the ROP-G will be able to comply with all state and federal air pollution requirements including appropriate recordkeeping.
Green Tier participants operate with an environmental management system. This requires the facility manage their environmental performance in an effective manner. The system is reviewed and improved each year by a third party through a review process known as an EMS audit. The audit also ensures that participants have a process to identify their compliance requirements.
Participants must also conduct an annual compliance audit to certify that they meet their environmental requirements, including those required by the ROP-G. If any violations are found, participants have an opportunity to be proactive in correcting compliance issues.
These verification mechanisms, integrated with the beyond-compliance aspects of Green Tier, allow the department to offer this unique benefit to those who go above and beyond!
- What if a company falls out of compliance?
If a compliance audit finds any issues, participants need to immediately correct the issues or submit a schedule for when they expect to have corrections made. Participants also amend their environmental management system to prevent further issues.
- What happens if a company with the ROP-G decided to withdraw from Green Tier?
Since Green Tier is a requirement of the air permit, the company would need to apply for and receive individual source construction and operation permits before withdrawing from Green Tier. The company would also be ineligible for EDGE program benefits since Green Tier participation is a key eligibility requirement of the EDGE program.
To prevent any compliance issues, we recommend contacting the department early to plan for any changes associated with withdrawing from Green Tier while receiving coverage under the ROP-G permit.
- What if my company grows and air pollution emissions will no longer be able to stay below the ROP-G emission caps?
The company would need to apply for and receive individual source construction and operation permits before exceeding any annual emission cap. Since eligibility for a registration permit is a key requirement of the EDGE Program, the company would be ineligible for the EDGE program benefits going forward.