From the Office Director
Welcome to Transportation Conformity Highlights, a new FHWA monthly update on transportation conformity issues. Activities underway in Washington, D.C. on the reauthorization of TEA-21 and implementation of the new 8-hour ozone and PM2.5 standards will impact transportation conformity in the near future. FHWA plans to issue this update monthly in order to keep conformity stakeholders up-to-date on issues that impact you and welcome any additions to our updates that you may have. Please feel free to email suggestions for items to be included in the updates to: Ssiwek@aol.com, our contractor for this effort.
James M. Shrouds, Director - Office of Natural and Human Environment
EPA Announces 8-hour Ozone Nonattainment Areas. On April 15, 2004 the U.S. EPA announced the 8-hour ozone designations, which have an effective date of June 15, 2004. Under the Clean Air Act, conformity determinations for these metropolitan area transportation plans and TIPs must be made by June 15, 2005 or the area will enter a lapse. For the attainment designations see: www.epa.gov/ozonedesignations.
EPA Announces Phase I - 8-Hour Ozone Implementation Rule. Concurrent with the nonattainment designations EPA announced Phase I of its final implementation rule, which will revoke the 1-hour ozone standard one year after the designation (or June 15, 2005) for most areas. Conformity for the 1-hour standard will continue to apply in 1-hour nonattainment and maintenance areas until that time. See: www.epa.gov/air/oaqps/glo/designations/finalrule.pdf.
Reauthorization of TEA-21. Congress passed another continuing resolution until June 30, 2004 in hopes that negotiations on TEA-21 can be completed by that time and a bill passed and signed by the President. Both the House and Senate have passed bills and negotiations are underway. For a summary of each bill and the Administration bill, see: www/fhwa.dot.gov/reauthorization.
Transportation Conformity Rule Update. We are working closely with EPA to expedite final revisions to the Transportation Conformity Rule to address the 8-hour ozone and PM2.5 standards. A notice of proposed rulemaking was published in the Federal Register on November 5, 2003. A final rule is expected to be released by June 15, 2004 in order to give 8-hour ozone nonattainment areas one full year to make a new conformity determination under the new rule. The new conformity rule will also include all revisions that were proposed to be made to update the rule in light of court cases over the past several years. The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking related to the new standards can be found at: www.epa.gov/fedrgstr/EPA-AIR/2003/November/Day-05/a27372.htm.
Transportation Control Measure Substitution Policy. On April 7, 2004 EPA issued Policy Guidance on the Adoption and Use of SIP TCM Substitution Mechanisms in SIPs: www.epa.gov/otaq/transp/traqconf.htm. This guidance presents EPA's final policy describing the adoption and use of transportation control measure (TCM) substitution mechanisms. EPA issued the guidance to clarify the parameters of TCM substitution mechanisms and to respond to requests from a wide range of stakeholders including transportation organizations and environmental groups. There are 3 substitution mechanisms in place today: Texas; Portland, Oregon; and Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Outreach/Training Activities Planned for the Release of the new Conformity Rule. FHWA, together with FTA and EPA will be conducting a series of outreach sessions on the transportation conformity requirements under the soon-to-be-released rule. Tentative plans are to conduct one or two web-based conferences and four regional workshops during the months of July and August. When information is finalized, a list of these outreach activities will be posted on the FHWA Air Quality/Conformity website. In addition, the National Transit Institute's Introduction to Air Quality/Transportation Conformity course (ntionline.com) is in the process of being updated and will include all information on the new conformity rule as soon as the rule is released. Two sessions will be offered in June and July: Atlanta, GA (June 8-10) and Baltimore, MD (June 29-July 1). New course offerings are being scheduled between July 1, 2004 and June 30, 2005. If your State is interested in sponsoring a course, at no cost, please contact: Ginny Stern at firstname.lastname@example.org.
FHWA HQ Transportation Conformity Team Contacts:
FHWA Resource Center Air Quality Team Contacts: