The Maryland Department of the Environment has modified its policy to allow printers to take possession of presses before they have the necessary permits to operate them.
The decision was made this week after an article in The Evening Sun on Monday pointed out the plight of small printers who were finding it difficult to buy used presses because of the long waiting period for the permits.
Under the federal Clean Air Act, the state must limit the quantity of volatile organic compounds -- such as gasoline vapors -- released into the air. The state requires a permit for such items as gasoline storage tanks, dry-cleaning machines, incinerators, chemical-processing equipment used by photographers, and printing presses.
Until the department changed its policy, printers who acquired presses had to get permits before putting them on their premises.
David B. Baker Jr., owner of Reese Press, was told he would
have to wait two to six months for a permit before he could move a press to his Baltimore plant. He said he had put a $40,000 deposit on a used press and was in danger of losing his money because he couldn't install it.
Ronald Nelson, deputy director of the Department of the Environment, said state officials had not understood the operations of small printers. Such businesses frequently buy used presses and must move them quickly.
The department's policy was changed this week to allow printers to move the presses to their facilities. But they will not be able to install and operate them without permits, he said.
The department also granted Reese Press the permit it needs.
"We're still within the law. We haven't compromised the statute," Nelson said.