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Air Quality Planning for Transportation Officials

Interagency Consultation and Public Involvement

A formal interagency consultation process is required in each nonattainment area to address technical and procedural issues related to air quality planning. Interagency consultation procedures include general and specific processes, such as:

Transportation agencies should be fully aware of interagency consultation requirements not only as they relate to transportation planning, but also as they apply to air quality planning and the SIP development process. Full knowledge of the interagency consultation requirements will help to ensure appropriate participation by all stakeholders in both the SIP development process and the transportation planning process.

The general and specific requirements for interagency consultation also include the development of a "Conformity SIP." Once EPA approves the Conformity SIP, the SIP and its consultation procedures are enforceable by EPA as a Federal regulation. Some areas have adopted Memorandums of Understanding (MOU), Memorandum of Agreement (MOA), or State regulations; all of which must be incorporated into the Conformity SIP, to satisfy this requirement.

Public consultation procedures are also required. Public consultation includes a proactive public involvement process with access to technical and policy information, and opportunity for review and comment. These activities are required to be consistent with the public involvement conducted under FHWA/FTA's transportation planning regulations.

Public participation is a very important part of the Clean Air Act. Throughout the Act, the public is provided opportunities to take part in determining how the law will be carried out. For instance, the public can take part in hearings on the State and local plans for cleaning up air pollution. The public can sue the government or a polluting source's owner or operator to get action when the Act is not being enforced. The public can also request action by the State or EPA against violators.

Public and interest group dissatisfaction with air quality planning can surface during transportation planning and vice versa. Increasingly, transportation agencies are facing negative comments and litigation regarding the air quality impacts of their transportation plans, programs, and projects, and many of the issues raised must be addressed in both the transportation planning and the air quality planning process.

Updated: 07/06/2011
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