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1 CONCURRENT AIR QUALITY ANALYSIS UNDER THE NATIONAL ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY ACT AND TRANSPORTATION/AIR QUALITY CONFORMITY Susan Shaheen 1 Randall Guensler, Ph.D. 2 Francisca Mar 1 ABSTRACT The Conformity Rule, adopted in November 1993 by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency under the requirements of Section 176 of the Clean Air Act, establishes strict procedures for determining the conformity of transportation plans and state air quality management plans. Conformity requirements apply to all transportation plans, programs, and projects, funded or approved under title 23 (Highways) U.S.C. or the Federal Transit Act. Under Conformity, transportation planning agencies must apply transportation activity and vehicle emission rate models to demonstrate that transportation plans, programs, and projects will not exceed allowable emissions budgets established in the air quality management plan. Furthermore, transportation planning agencies must apply microscale air quality impact models to demonstrate that projects will not cause a violation of local air quality standards. This paper addresses the direct and indirect relationships between the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the new conformity requirements. This paper concludes that NEPA and transportation/air quality conformity processes should be concurrent. The need for concurrent determinations is supported by five arguments: 1) the legislative history of conformity indicates that project conformity determinations be made during the NEPA process; 2) general NEPA requirements specify coordination between environmental processes; 3) the level of technical detail required for conformity analyses meets or exceeds the level already required for NEPA; 4) unless conformity is taken into account, alternatives and mitigation measures generated during the NEPA analytical process may later result in a negative conformity determination; and 5) public comment periods, unless coordinated, would run consecutively rather than concurrently, potentially delaying project implementation. INTRODUCTION The consequences of a more mobile population include air pollution, health effects, poor visibility, greenhouse gas emissions, and ozone layer depletion. In recognition of these problems, the United States has developed legislation to regulate transportation activity in consideration of the environment. Some legislation is focused directly on reducing the environmental impacts of the transportation system, such as the mobile source provisions of the 1970 Clean Air Act (CAA) and its subsequent amendments that require cleaner vehicles and the implementation of transportation control measures (TCMs). Other legislation focuses on transportation planning and development processes, primarily to 1 Institute of Transportation Studies, University of California at Davis, Davis, CA 95616 2 School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA 30332-0355
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2 ensure that transportation plans are developed and decisions are made with an assessment of the
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This note was uploaded on 06/08/2009 for the course CEE 4620 taught by Professor Gensler during the Spring '09 term at Georgia Institute of Technology.

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