FHWA/FTA Issue Interim Guidance on SAFETEA-LU Provisions that Affect Planning, Environment and Air Quality. On September 2, 2005 the FHWA and FTA issued guidance on how to implement numerous provisions of SAFETEA-LU, particularly those that take effect immediately. Of particular note is the guidance on the changes to the conformity and planning processes that allow MPOs to take advantage of the SAFETEA-LU provisions prior to July 1, 2007 when all plans, TIPs, and STIPs must comply with the new requirements. FHWA/FTA and EPA are working on interim guidance for how to implement the transportation conformity provisions of SAFETEA-LU before rulemaking is completed and on additional guidance and rulemaking, which must be completed within two years of the enactment of SAFETEA-LU. The interim guidance will be released as soon as possible. The joint FHWA/FTA and the FHWA-only interim guidance are available at: www.fhwa.dot.gov/hep/guidance/.
FHWA Establishes SAFETEA-LU Website. FHWA has developed a comprehensive website on SAFETEA-LU that can be found at: www.fhwa.dot.gov/safetealu/index.htm.
EPA Reaches Agreement with Four Environmental Groups on PM2.5 Hot-Spot Final Rule. EPA reached a settlement agreement on September 8th with four environmental groups that had filed a lawsuit seeking a deadline for EPA to issue a final rule on PM2.5 hot spot requirements for transportation conformity. The settlement requires that by March 2006 EPA will issue a final rule for determining whether federally-funded transportation projects result in "hot spots" of fine particle pollution that contribute to an area's violation of the PM2.5 standard. EPA is taking comments on the settlement until October 11. The settlement can be found at (70 Fed.Reg.53.358: Environmental Defense v. EPA, D.C. Cir, No. 04-1291, 9/8/05). Comments should be identified with docket ID number OGC-2005-0005 and may be submitted online at http://www.regulations.gov. Comments also may be submitted to email@example.com by email.
EPA Releases Proposed Rule to Implement the PM2.5 Standard. On September 8, 2005, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a proposed rule implementing the 1997 fine particle (PM2.5) national ambient air quality standard. The Agency will accept public comment on this proposal for 60 days from the date the notice appears in the Federal Register. The proposed rule can be found at: www.epa.gov/pmdesignations/.
EPA Releases Draft Guidance on Best Workplaces for Commuters (BWC). EPA released draft guidance on how control measures supporting Best Workplaces for Commuters (BWC) program can be included in SIPs and transportation conformity determinations. The guidance also discusses how the updated COMMUTER model or other appropriate methods can be used to quantify benefits from BWC-related control measures. BWC is a voluntary program that encourages employers to offer commute benefits to their staff that can result reduced VMT and emissions. For copies of the draft guidance, contact: Mary Walsh, EPA's Best Workplaces for Commuters Program, 734-214-4205.
AMPO Annual Meeting to be held in Denver, CO October 11-14. The Association of Metropolitan Planning Organizations annual meeting is being held in Denver in October. There are three sessions on air quality and CMAQ issues that may interest transportation conformity stakeholders. To register see: www.ampo.org/events/conference2005.html.
PM2.5 Transportation Conformity Workshops. Workshops on PM2.5 conformity requirements continue in September at the following locations.
Estimating Regional Mobile Source Emissions Course Scheduled. The NHI course on Estimating Regional Mobile Source Emissions will be held in Arlington, VA from November 15-19, 2005. For more information and to register see: www.nhi.fhwa.dot.gov/coursedesc.asp?coursenum=1068 (link disabled).
NTI Course: Introduction to Transportation Conformity. Courses will be offered in Los Angeles, CA on October 26-28, Charleston, WVA on November 1-3, and Chattanooga, TN on January 17-19, 2006. One additional course is being scheduled between now and February 2006 in Dover, DE. For information and to register go to: www.ntionline.com/CourseInfo.asp?CourseNumber=FP213
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 can be found at: www.fhwa.dot.gov/resourcecenter/teams/airquality/courses.cfm.
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FHWA Resource Center Air Quality Team Contacts: