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Interim Guidance Update on Mobile Source Air Toxic Analysis in NEPA - Appendix E

Lessening the effects of mobile source air toxics should be considered for projects with substantial construction-related MSAT emissions that are likely to occur over an extended building period, and for post-construction scenarios where the NEPA analysis indicates potentially meaningful MSAT levels. Such mitigation efforts should be evaluated based on the circumstances associated with individual projects, and they may not be appropriate in all cases. However, there are a number of available mitigation strategies and solutions for countering the effects of MSAT emissions.

Mitigating for Construction MSAT Emissions

Construction activity may generate a temporary increase in MSAT emissions. Project-level assessments that render a decision to pursue construction emission mitigation will benefit from a number of technologies and operational practices that should help lower short-term MSAT. In addition, the Federal Highway Administration has supported a host of diesel retrofit technologies in the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement (CMAQ) Program provisions - technologies that are designed to lessen a number of MSATs.1

Construction mitigation includes strategies that reduce engine activity or reduce emissions per unit of operating time, such as reducing the numbers of trips and extended idling. Operational agreements that reduce or redirect work or shift times to avoid community exposures can have positive benefits when sites are near populated areas. For example, agreements that stress work activity outside normal hours of an adjacent school campus would be operations-oriented mitigation. Verified emissions control technology retrofits or fleet modernization of engines for construction equipment could be appropriate mitigation strategies. Technology retrofits could include particulate matter traps, oxidation catalysts, and other devices that provide an after-treatment of exhaust emissions. Implementing maintenance programs per manufacturers' specifications to ensure engines perform at EPA certification levels, as applicable, and to ensure retrofit technologies perform at verified standards, as applicable, could also be deemed appropriate. The use of clean fuels, such as ultra-low sulfur diesel, biodiesel, or natural gas also can be a very cost-beneficial strategy.

The EPA has listed a number of approved diesel retrofit technologies; many of these can be deployed as emissions mitigation measures for equipment used in construction.  This listing can be found at: http://www.epa.gov/cleandiesel/technologies/retrofits.htm.

Post-Construction Mitigation for Projects with Potentially Significant MSAT Levels

Travel demand management strategies and techniques that reduce overall vehicle-mile of travel; reduce a particular type of travel, such as long-haul freight or commuter travel; or improve the transportation system's efficiency will mitigate MSAT emissions. Examples of such strategies include congestion pricing, commuter incentive programs, and increases in truck weight or length limits. Operational strategies that focus on speed limit enforcement or traffic management policies may help reduce MSAT emissions even beyond the benefits of fleet turnover.  Well-traveled highways with high proportions of heavy-duty diesel truck activity may benefit from active Intelligent Transportation System programs, such as traffic management centers or incident management systems.  Similarly, anti-idling strategies, such as truck-stop electrification can complement projects that focus on new or increased freight activity.

Planners also may want to consider the benefits of establishing buffer zones between new or expanded highway alignments and populated areas. Modifications of local zoning or the development of guidelines that are more protective also may be useful in separating emissions and receptors.

The initial decision to pursue MSAT emissions mitigation should be the result of interagency consultation at the earliest juncture. Options available to project sponsors should be identified through careful information gathering and the required level of deliberation to assure an effective course of action. Such options may include local programs, whether voluntary or with incentives, to replace or rebuild older diesel engines with updated emissions controls. Information on EPA diesel collaborative around the country can be found at http://www.epa.gov/otaq/fuels/dieselfuels/index.htm.


1http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment/air_quality/cmaq/policy_and_guidance/2008_guidance/index.cfm

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Updated: 12/21/2012
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