WASHINGTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is reported to be considering ways to streamline the air-pollution permitting process to allow companies to avoid the necessity of completing new permit applications when manufacturing processes are changed or facilities are expanded.

According to published reports, the EPA is in the early stages of discussing a policy to allow states to issue "smart permits" that would cover a range of possible operating "scenarios" that might occur in the future at manufacturing facilities. Such permits would allow manufacturers to make changes in a plant or process without applying for a new air-pollution permit. Under existing rules, air-pollution permits require a 30-day public-comment period, a detailed inspection and an EPA review.

A spokeswoman for the EPA’s Office of Air Pollution Programs said she could not provide any immediate comment on the published reports.