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Transportation Conformity Highlights

January 2009

Prepared by the Office of Natural and Human Environment Federal Highway Administration

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Announcements

Organizational Changes at FHWA. Associate Administrator Gloria Shepherd recently announced changes in the Headquarters Office of Planning, Environment, and Realty. Notably, she created a new Sustainable Transport and Climate Change Team (HEPN-40) composed of staff from several disciplines. In addition, the former Air Quality and Transportation Conformity teams have been consolidated under team leader Cecilia Ho, (HEPN-10). Both teams are within the Office of Natural and Human Environment (HEPN). The former Water & Ecosystem Team has been renamed the Project Mitigation Team (HEPE-30) and is now part of the Office of Project Development and Environmental Review (HEPE).

FHWA Launches Economic Recovery Web Page. In anticipation of the Economic Recovery Legislation currently being discussed in Congress and to assist our state and local partners in preparing for the implementation of this program, the Federal Highway Administration has established an economic recovery Web page located at http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/economicrecovery. A series of key questions and answers (Q&As) has been posted and will be updated as more information becomes available. The web page also includes a list of actions that can be taken to expedite the Economic Recovery Delivery. FHWA encourages all potential recipients of highway-related economic recovery funding to review and move forward on those items that are applicable.

EPA Releases Proposed Rulemaking on 8-hour Ozone Implementation. On January 9, EPA released a proposed rule that addresses two areas: 1) implementation of the 8-hour ozone standard in areas classified under Subpart 1 of the Clean Air Act (CAA), and 2) implementation of the 8-hour ozone standard in former 1-hour ozone nonattainment and maintenance areas. EPA proposes to classify all remaining subpart 1 nonattainment areas under subpart 2 of the CAA. EPA is also proposing that 1-hour ozone contingency measures continue to apply until an area attains the 1997 8-hour ozone NAAQS.

The conformity implications of this proposed rulemaking are that nonattainment areas previously classified under subpart 1, that are still designated nonattainment, would be classified under subpart 2 as either marginal or moderate nonattainment areas, depending on the data initially used to designate the area in 2004. However, it is important to note that current conformity determinations would remain valid, and are not impacted by the proposed action. No new conformity deadline would be triggered. Areas designated as moderate would be provided 12 months after the effective date of designation to meet the additional conformity requirements (40 CFR 93.119(b)(1)). Comments are due on or before February 17, 2009. For more information, see: the Fact sheet at http://www.epa.gov/air/ozonepollution/pdfs/fs20090109b.pdf and Proposed rule at http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2009-01-16/pdf/E9-806.pdf.

EPA Proposes to Disapprove Seven Ozone SIPs.EPA announced on January 9 that it has proposed disapprovals of ozone SIPs for five states and is also making a finding that two states missed the June 15, 2007 SIP submittal deadline for ozone SIPs. As of January 28 the Federal Register Notice had not been issued. The fact sheet on this proposed action can be found at:http://www.epa.gov/air/ozonepollution/actions.html#jan09i. There will be a 30-day comment period once the Federal Register Notice is posted.

EPA Proposes Revision to Air Quality Index for Particle Pollution. EPA is proposing to update its Air Quality Index (AQI) to reflect the latest standards for fine particle pollution. The proposal would set a "significant harm" level, which states use in developing emergency episode plans. Under the proposed changes, the AQI would reach "code orange", unhealthy for sensitive groups, when particle pollution levels reach 35.5 micrograms per cubic meter of air. The changes would also mean that air quality reaches the "unhealthy" category at a lower particle pollution level. EPA will take comments for 60 days after the proposal is published in the Federal Register. EPA will hold a public hearing March 5, 2009 in the Dallas area. For more information, see: http://www.epa.gov/pm/actions.html.

The Road... Less Traveled: Analysis of VMT Trends in the U.S. The Brookings Institute recently released this report on the analysis of vehicle miles traveled trends in the U.S. The document ranks all 50 states and the nation's 100 largest metro areas for their driving footprint. See: http://www.brookings.edu/reports/2008/1216_transportation_tomer_puentes.aspx.

Transportation Research Board (TRB) Transportation and Air Quality Committee Meeting.The TRB Transportation and Air Quality Committee met as part of the TRB Annual Meeting on January 10-15. The Committee sponsored a number of sessions including a Climate Change 101 workshop on January 11. For more information on the Committee's activities, see: http://trb.org/Main/Public/Blurbs/161651.aspx.

Reminders

Training Opportunities

Introduction to Transportation Conformity Course. The National Transit Institute course will be offered in Houston, TX on March 23-25. This introductory course is a two and one-half day training course. This will be the last free course for the balance of the NTI fiscal year which ends on June 30, 2009. For more information on future sessions, to host a course, or to register for the Houston course contact: http://www.ntionline.com/CourseInfo.asp?CourseNumber=FP213.

Transportation Conformity 101.The FHWA Resource Center is offering Transportation Conformity 101 training in Raleigh, NC on February 26, 2009. For more information, please contact Mike Roberts at Michael.Roberts@fhwa.dot.gov.

MARK YOUR CALENDAR! The Southern Transportation and Air Quality Summit (STAQS)is planned for Jacksonville, FL, August 25-27, 2009. More details to follow in coming months. For more information, please contact Mike Roberts at Michael.Roberts@fhwa.dot.gov.

What is Transportation Conformity?The FHWA Resource Center will be offering 1-hour webinars in February to provide a brief introduction to Transportation Conformity. The webinar will answer: What is transportation conformity? What are the basic requirements? It is geared to those new to transportation conformity. Choose the session most convenient for you: To register for Tuesday, February 10 from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. eastern, visit http://www.nhi.fhwa.dot.gov/resources/webconference/web_conf_learner_reg.aspx?webConfID=16134. To register for Thursday, February 19, from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. eastern, visit http://www.nhi.fhwa.dot.gov/resources/webconference/web_conf_learner_reg.aspx?webConfID=16133. For more information, please contact Karen Perritt at Karen.Perritt@fhwa.dot.gov or 410-962-0720.

FHWA Resource Center Training Activities.FHWA's Resource Center Air Quality Technical Services Team is available to offer air quality-related training opportunities and information is available at: http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/resourcecenter/teams/airquality/courses.cfm. For further information, contact: Mike Roberts at 404-562-3928 or at Michael.Roberts@dot.gov.

FHWA Resource Center Air Quality Team:
http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/resourcecenter/teams/airquality/index.cfm.

If you have any suggestions for future monthly conformity highlights, please email: ssiwek@aol.com.

Updated: 07/10/2014
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