75-2-218. Permits for operation -- application completeness -- action by department -- application shield -- review by board. (1) An application for an operating permit or renewal is not considered filed until the department has determined that it is complete. An application is complete if all fees required under 75-2-220 and all information and completed application forms required under 75-2-217 have been submitted. A complete application must contain all of the information required for the department to begin processing the application. If the department fails to notify the applicant in writing within 60 days after submittal of an application that the application is incomplete and fails to list the reasons why the application is considered incomplete, the application is considered filed on the date of the department's receipt of the application. The department may request additional information after a completeness determination has been made. The department shall adopt rules that contain criteria for use in determining both when an application is complete and when additional information is required after a completeness determination has been made.
(2) Except as provided in 75-1-208(4)(b) and subsection (3) of this section, the department shall, consistent with the procedures established under 75-2-217, approve or disapprove a complete application for an operating permit or renewal and shall issue or deny the permit or renewal within 18 months after the date of filing. Failure of the department to act in a timely manner does not constitute approval or denial of the application. This does not limit or abridge the right of any person to seek available judicial remedies to require the department to act in a timely manner.
(3) The department may by rule provide for a transition schedule for both the submittal to the department of initial applications for operating permits by existing sources and action by the department on these initial permit applications. The department may require that one-third of all operating permit applications required for existing sources be submitted within the first calendar year after the adoption of rules implementing an operating permit program under 75-2-217.
(4) If an applicant submits a timely and complete application for an operating permit, the applicant's failure to hold a valid operating permit is not a violation of 75-2-217. If an applicant submits a timely and complete application for an operating permit renewal, the expiration of the applicant's existing operating permit is not a violation of 75-2-217. The applicant shall continue to be subject to the terms and conditions of the expired operating permit until the operating permit is renewed and is subject to the application of 75-2-217. The applicant is not entitled to the protection of this subsection if the delay in final action by the department on the application results from the applicant's failure to submit in a timely manner information requested by the department to process the application.
(5) Except as provided in subsection (8), if the department approves or denies an application for an operating permit or the renewal, modification, or amendment of a permit under 75-2-217 and this section, any person that participated in the public comment process required under 75-2-217(7) may request a hearing before the board. The request for a hearing must be filed within 30 days after the department renders its decision and must include an affidavit setting forth the grounds for the request. The contested case provisions of the Montana Administrative Procedure Act, Title 2, chapter 4, part 6, apply to a hearing under this subsection.
(6) (a) Except as provided in subsection (8), the department's decision on any application is not final until 30 days have elapsed from the date of the decision.
(b) Except as provided in subsection (8), the filing of a request for hearing does not stay the department's decision. However, the board may order a stay upon receipt of a petition and a finding, after notice and opportunity for an informal hearing, that:
(i) the person requesting the hearing is entitled to the relief demanded in the request for a hearing; or
(ii) continuation of the permit during the appeal would produce great or irreparable injury to the person requesting the hearing.
(c) Upon granting a stay, the board may require a written undertaking to be given by the party requesting the stay for the payment of costs and damages incurred by the permit applicant and its employees if the board determines that the permit was properly issued. When requiring an undertaking, the board shall use the same procedures and limitations as are provided in 27-19-306(2) through (4) for undertakings on injunctions.
(7) The requirements of subsections (5) and (6) also apply to any action initiated by the department to suspend, revoke, modify, or amend an operating permit issued under this section.
(8) The denial by the department of an application under 75-2-217 and this section is not subject to review by the board or judicial review if the basis for denial is the written objection of the appropriate federal agency acting pursuant to the federal Clean Air Act, 42 U.S.C. 7401, et seq.
(9) Compliance with an operating permit granted or renewed under 75-2-217 and this section is considered to be compliance with the requirements of this chapter only if the permit expressly includes those requirements or an express determination that those requirements are not applicable. This subsection does not apply to general permits provided for under 75-2-217.