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Transportation Conformity Highlights

July 2007

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

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Announcements

FHWA Announces Revisions to the Surface Transportation Environment and Planning Cooperative Research Program (STEP).On June 25, the FHWA posted a notice in the Federal Register announcing revisions to the STEP implementation strategy for FY2008 and requesting suggested lines of research for the FY2008 STEP program. The STEP program was created in SAFETEA-LU to improve understanding of the complex relationship between surface transportation, planning and the environment. STEP is the primary source of funds to conduct all FHWA research on planning and environmental issues. Suggestions for lines of research should be submitted to the STEP Web site on or before August 24, 2007. See: www.fhwa.dot.gov/hep/step/index.cfm for more information and to provide suggestions on lines of research for FY2008.

EPA Issues Proposed Rule on Changes in the Ozone NAAQS.On July 11, EPA posted its proposed rule for revisions to the ozone NAAQS in the Federal Register. EPA proposes to revise the level of the 8-hour ozone standard to a level within the range of 0.070 to 0.075 parts per million(ppm). The EPA also proposes to specify the level of the primary standard to the nearest thousandth ppm. EPA solicits comment on alternative levels down to 0.060 ppm and up to and including retaining the current 8-hour standard of 0.08 ppm (effectively 0.084 ppm using current data rounding conventions). EPA also is proposing to revise the "secondary" standard for ozone to improve protection for plants, trees and crops during the growing season. EPA is proposing two alternatives for this standard: a standard that would be identical to the "primary" standard to protect public health; and a cumulative standard aimed at protecting vegetation during the growing season. Public hearings will be held on August 30 and September 5, 2007. Comments on the proposed rule must be received by October 9, 2007. For a copy of the proposed rule, see: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2007-07-11/html/E7-12416.htm. For more information, see: http://epa.gov/groundlevelozone/actions.html.

EPA Announces Intent to Renew Information Collection Request (ICR). On July 19, EPA posted a notice in the Federal Register soliciting comments on its intent to renew its financial burden estimates associated with compliance with the transportation conformity requirements. Pursuant to section 3506© (2)(A)of the Paperwork Reduction Act, EPA must estimate the financial burden of compliance with the conformity requirements on affected agencies. For this ICR renewal, in addition to the 8-hour ozone and PM2.5 NAAQS which comprised the previous EPA ICR, EPA has incorporated burden associated with transportation conformity for all other transportation conformity-related pollutants now covered in the DOT ICR for Statewide and Metropolitan Transportation Planning. The notice has been posted at www.regulations.gov. Look for document number EPA-HQ-OAR-2007-0269. Comments are due by 9/17/07.

Guidance

EPA Provides Guidance to its NEPA Reviewers on the effect of the 2006 PM2.5 NAAQS on NEPA Evaluations.On June 25, EPA issued a memorandum to their Regional Offices regarding how the 2006 PM2.5 daily standard of 35µg/m3 and the PM2.5 annual standard of 15µg/m3 should be reflected in NEPA evaluations. EPA indicated that these NAAQS should be used as the threshold for NEPA evaluations and determinations. The memo was distributed by CEQ to all Federal agencies fro consideration and use.

EPA's Guidance on Transportation Conformity and the Revised 24-hour PM2.5 Standard. On April 16, 2007 EPA released guidance on the implementation of the revised 24-hour PM2.5 standard. This guidance indicates that transportation conformity for the 2006 24-hour PM2.5 standard of 35 µg/m3 does not apply until one year after the effective date of nonattainment designations that consider that standard. The timeline to implement the 2006 PM2.5 standards is available at: http://www.epa.gov/air/particlepollution/naaqsrev2006.html#timeline. Because EPA's nonattainment designations for existing PM2.5 nonattainment areas were based on the 1997 standards, these 1997 standards apply for transportation conformity in current PM2.5 nonattainment areas. The guidance does not address the October 2006 revisions to the PM10 standards, which will be addressed by EPA in the future. The guidance memo is posted at: http://www.epa.gov/otaq/stateresources/transconf/policy.htm.

Publications

TRB Special Report 288 - Metropolitan Travel Forecasting: Current Practice and Future Direction. TRB recently released the long awaited report on the state of the practice of travel modeling. The report examines metropolitan travel forecasting models that provide public officials with information to inform decisions on major transportation system investments and policies. The report explores what improvements may be needed to the models and how federal, state, and local agencies can achieve them. See: http://www.trb.org/news/blurb_detail.asp?id=7821.

Reminders

STAQS Conference Scheduled. The Southern Transportation and Air Quality Summit 2007 is an event sponsored by the FHWA and EPA Regions 3, 4, and 6. It will be held August 28-30, 2007 in Savannah, Georgia, at the Hilton Savannah DeSoto Hotel. The purpose of the summit is to bring together stakeholders from both the transportation and air quality communities to discuss current and coming regulatory environment, technologies and current practices vital to the field of air quality and transportation. The summit is geared to practitioners involved with public agencies at all levels. A host of speakers from within the southern and eastern regions will present a number of key topics, best practices and latest information vital to transportation, planning, and air quality professionals. For more information, see: http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/resourcecenter/staqs/ or contact: Mike Roberts, 404-562-3928, Michael.Roberts@dot.gov.

Training Opportunities

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.

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

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

Updated: 07/10/2014
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