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Transportation Conformity Highlights

October 2008

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

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Announcements

Study Probes Link Between Wildfires, Ground-level Ozone. The National Center for Atmospheric Research conducted a study that found the 2007 California wildfires repeatedly boosted ground-level ozone levels to unhealthy levels across a wide area, including much of rural California and parts of Nevada. Ozone was three times more likely to surpass safe levels when fire plumes blew into a region than when there were not plumes, the researchers found. Fires release nitrogen oxides and hydrocarbons, which can form ozone near the fires or far downwind, according to the center. The report was funded by NASA and the National Science Foundation and was published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) for Lead. On October 15, 2008, EPA tightened the lead standards to 0.15 micrograms of lead per cubic meter of air (ug/m3). This decision marks the first time the lead standards have changed in 30 years. The previous standards, set in 1978, were 1.5 ug/m3. EPA also revised the secondary lead standard at the same level to protect the public welfare, including the environment. The existing monitoring network for lead is not sufficient to determine whether many areas of the country would meet the revised standards. EPA is redesigning the nation's lead monitoring network, which is necessary for the agency to assess compliance with the new standard. No later than October 2011, EPA will designate areas that must take additional steps to reduce lead air emissions. States have five years to meet these new standards after designations take effect. For more information about the revised lead standards visit: http://www.epa.gov/air/lead/

NHTSA Issues Final EIS for New CAFE Standards. On October 10, 2008, the National Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued its Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) for new Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards required by the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007. NHTSA recently proposed standards for model year 2011-2015 passenger cars and light trucks. The FEIS compares the environmental impacts of the agency's Preferred Alternative and reasonable alternatives, including a "No Action" alternative. Among other potential impacts, NHTSA analyzed the direct and indirect impacts related to fuel and energy use, emissions (including carbon dioxide and its effects on temperature and climate change), air quality, natural resources, and the human environment. The FEIS can be found at http://www.nhtsa.gov/Laws+&+Regulations/CAFE+-+Fuel+Economy/Model+Years+2012-2016:+Final+Rule.

The 88th Annual Transportation Research Board Meeting.The TRB 88th Annual Meeting, January 11-15, 2009, will include more than 60 sessions and workshops that address the meeting's spotlight theme of Transportation, Energy, and Climate Change. The intent of these sessions will be to raise awareness of the implications of both the transportation sector's adverse contributions to climate change, as well as the effect that climate change has had and will continue to have on the transportation systems of tomorrow. For more information on the TRB Annual Meeting, see: http://www.trb.org/news/blurb_detail.asp?id=9550.

Reminders

EPA Releases Greenhouse Gas Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR).On July 30, 2008 the U.S. EPA released an ANPR for review and comment on analyses and policy alternatives regarding greenhouse gas (GHG) effects and regulations under the Clean Air Act. Comments are due November 28, 2008. This notice includes both the Preamble to the proposed rulemaking that provides voluminous detail on issues that EPA is seeking input on, and observations and issues raised by other federal agencies during the interagency review process related to the ANPR. EPA is seeking comment on both to help them frame the issue going forward. For more information, see: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2008-07-30/html/E8-16432.htm.

EPA Notifies States of Proposed Nonattainment areas for the 24-Hour fine particulate standard.On August 19 the EPA announced its proposed PM2.5 nonattainment areas and will make formal designations in December 2008, after states and tribes comment on the proposals and if needed, provide additional information. EPA's recommendations include 169 whole counties and 46 partial counties in 25 states. SIPs for areas formally designated in December will be due three years from the effective date of the designations. Recommendations from states and tribes to EPA along with EPA's responses are available at: http://www.epa.gov/pmdesignations/2006standards/index.htm.

Training Opportunities

FHWA Resource Center releases new CAL3Interface.The Air Quality Technical Service Team of the FHWA Resource Center designed and constructed an easy-to-use interface (known as the CAL3Interface) for two of the U.S. EPA's most widely used highway air quality models, CALINE3 and CAL3QHC. These models are used for highway air quality impact assessments as part of the NEPA process, as well as for CO hot-spot analyses in conformity determinations. To make the jobs of transportation professionals easier, the CAL3Interface includes interactive graphical forms for entering the required data, grouped by: 1) control data; 2) receptor data; 3) link data; and 4) meteorological data. Plus, it allows the models to operate on the Microsoft? Windows? operating system by providing modes for program execution; displaying results in a summary table, bar graph, or model printout; and opening, saving, and printing data files. Perhaps more importantly, the CAL3Interface extends the functionality of the available CALINE3 and CAL3QHC models by:

The program is available for public release. For instructions in obtaining a copy, contact Mike Claggett at Michael.Claggett@dot.gov.

Introduction to Transportation Conformity Course.The National Transit Institute course will be offered in Tampa, Florida on January 27-29, 2009. This introductory course is a two and one-half day training course. For more information on future sessions and to register contact: http://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 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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