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Transportation Conformity Highlights

October 2009

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

Announcements and Recent Events

EPA Releases Final 2006 24-hour PM2.5 Designations. On October 8, EPA released the final nonattainment designations for areas under the 2006 24-hour PM2.5 standard. EPA used 2006-2008 data in determining which areas are in nonattainment and concluded that 31 nonattainment areas encompassing 120 full or partial counties in 18 states are violating the standard. Three potential areas are being evaluated by EPA and may become nonattainment by early 2010.They are:Pinal County in AZ; Plumas County and Shasta County in CA; andHarris County in TX. In 2006 EPA strengthened the 24-hour PM2.5 standard from 65µg/m3 to 35µg/m3 to better protect public health. While monitored levels of fine particulate pollution decreased nationwide by 19 percent from 2000 to 2008, 120 full or partial counties remain in violation of the standard. However, 91 counties that had been notified that they violated the standard based on 2005-2007 monitored data are now in attainment of the standard. Transportation conformity requirements will apply one year after the effective date of the designations which is expected to be posted in the Federal Register in November 2009 and become effective 30 days after publication. SIPs will be due in November 2012 (three years after the effective date of designation) and the attainment date for all areas is November 2014 unless a five year extension is agreed to by EPA, which is granted on a case-by-case basis. For more information, see: http://www.epa.gov/pmdesignations.

Surface Transportation Environment and Planning (STEP) Cooperative Research Program. On September 4, the FHWA posted a Federal Register notice announcing its proposed FY2010 STEP implementation strategy. The FHWA posted the proposed STEP program in anticipation of reauthorization of surface transportation programs in FY2010. The STEP program was established in SAFETEA-LU and is FHWA's primary source of funding to conduct research and develop tools and technologies to advance the state of the practice on national surface transportation and environmental decision-making. The Federal Register Notice outlines the proposed FY 2010 STEP program and seeks comments by December 3, 2009 on proposed research activities through the STEP website at: http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/hep/step/index.cfm.

DOT Releases CMAQ Evaluation and Assessment Report. SAFETEA-LU required that DOT, in consultation with EPA, evaluate and assess the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program (CMAQ). DOT recently released the Phase II report which addresses program implementation through a series of site visits where effective practices in selecting CMAQ projects are documented. The Phase I effort analyzed over 60 projects to estimate their emissions and congestion impacts as well as cost-effectiveness. Both reports can be found at: http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment/air_quality/conformity/reference/

EPA Reports on Diesel Emission Reduction Program (DERP). EPA recently released a report on the highly successful DERP which provides funding to clean up the old, existing diesel fleet of on-road vehicles and off-road vehicles and equipment. Congress appropriated $49.2 million for the program in federal fiscal year 2008. EPA reports that more than 14,000 vehicles and pieces of equipment will be cleaned up using a variety of strategies such as retrofitting, repowering, or repairing older diesel engines. EPA estimates that 46,000 tons of NOx and 2,200 tons of PM will be eliminated as a result of the program. To link to the report go to: http://www.epa.gov/otaq/diesel/publications.htm#deraprogress.

NARC Releases Integrating Air Quality and Transportation Planning: A Resource Compendium. The National Association of Regional Councils (NARC) recently released a valuable resource tool that provides information on the integration of air quality and transportation planning and the community of practice as it has evolved since 2001. The document includes information from fourteen workshops held to address the challenges associated with balancing the furthering of air quality goals with transportation investments. To access the Air Quality Planning Compendium, see: http://narc.org/events/workshops/integrating-air-quality-transportation-planning-workshops.html.

EPA Releases NOx Budget Trading Program 2008 Annual Report. EPA's Annual Report on the NOx Trading Program indicates that summertime NOx emissions from major industrial facilities and coal-fired power plants in the eastern United States declined 5% between 2007 and 2008. EPA's NOx Budget Trading Program is a cap-and-trade program that was created to reduce regional transport of NOx emissions in 20 eastern states and the District of Columbia. The report also shows that overall, summertime NOx emissions have decreased 62% compared to 2000 levels and 75% since 1990. For EPA's annual report, see: http://www.epa.gov/airmarkets/progress/NBP_4.html.

Reminders

EPA to Reconsider 2008 Ozone Standards. On September 16, EPA announced that it will thoroughly review the scientific studies and public comments that led to the establishment of the 2008 primary and secondary ozone standards at 0.075 ppm. EPA announced an ambitious schedule to review the scientific information and indicated the agency will propose any revisions by December 2009 with a final decision set for August 2010. During the review period EPA announced that it proposes to stay the 2008 standards for the purpose of designations of nonattainment and maintenance areas. For more information, see: http://www.epa.gov/groundlevelozone.

CO Protocols Added to FHWA's Examples of Transportation Conformity Practices Website.FHWA's Examples of Transportation Conformity Practices website now includes examples of CO screening protocols. These protocols are used by project sponsors to determine whether hot-spot modeling is required for projects in CO nonattainment and maintenance areas. In addition to the CO protocols, the website contains examples of PM2.5 and PM10 project level hot-spot analyses, state and local procedures for determining whether PM2.5 and PM10 hot-spot analyses are required for a project, and state and local on-road mobile source measures in State Implementation Plans (SIPs). To access the examples of conformity practices, see: http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment/air_quality/conformity/practices/search.cfmm. If you want to submit example of practices to be considered for the website, contact Emily Biondi at Emily.Biondi@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.

National Transit Institute's Introduction to Transportation Conformity Course. The NTI course to be held in Atlanta has been rescheduled and will be offered on December 1-3, 2009. The course will also be held in Kansas City, Missouri on December 9-11, 2009 and in Columbus, Ohio on March 24-26, 2010. This two and one-half day course has recently been updated and provides basic information on conformity and updates on the conformity process. For more information, see: www.ntionline.com. There is still space available in all three course offerings.

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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