On March 29, 2006, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) issued joint guidance on how to perform qualitative hot-spot analyses in PM2.5 and PM10 nonattainment and maintenance areas titled, "Transportation Conformity Guidance for Qualitative Hot-spot Analysis in PM2.5 and PM10 Nonattainment and Maintenance Areas" (March 2006 guidance). The guidance provides information for State and local agencies to meet the PM2.5 and PM10 hot-spot analysis requirements established in the March 10, 2006, final transportation conformity rule (71 FR 12468).
Since issuing the March 2006 guidance, a lawsuit was filed challenging a project's conformity determination, including the project's PM2.5 hot-spot analysis that relied on method A (comparison to another location with similar characteristics). Method A is described in question 4.1 of the March 2006 guidance. As part of a settlement agreement on that lawsuit (Environmental Defense, et al. v. USDOT, et al., No. 08-1107 (4th Cir., dismissed Nov. 17. 2008)), FHWA agreed to issue a clarification on a specific schedule, in coordination with EPA, to the March 2006 guidance. This clarification does not supersede the March 2006 guidance or the March 10, 2006 final transportation conformity rule; it only further explains how to implement the existing guidance and the hot-spot analysis requirements in the final rule. The clarification also does not create any new requirements and does not serve as guidance for PM2.5 and PM10 quantitative hot-spot analyses.
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Comments on the draft clarification should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org no later than March 16, 2009.