XI. Air Quality
and maintenance areas, projects included shall be specified in sufficient
detail (design concept and scope) to permit air quality analysis in accordance
Nonattainment areas are those geographic regions that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) designates as not meeting one or more of the NAAQS due to monitored levels of pollutants. Ozone (O3), carbon monoxide (CO) and particulate matter under 10 microns in diameter (PM10) were the primary transportation-related pollutants at the time. The CAAA90 set severity classifications of non-attainment based on monitored air quality concentrations. Each nonattainment area was given an attainment deadline depending on the severity of nonattainment; if an area’s monitored failed to meet the attainment date; it was “bumped up” to a higher severity and was subject to more stringent regulatory requirements.
Capital District Nonattainment Status
Based on NYSDEC’s
monitored emissions data[i], EPA designated the
Capital District to be a non-attainment area for the 1-hour Ozone standard in
1991; the severity level was set at “marginal”, and the attainment date set for
In air quality nonattainment/maintenance areas, the MPO’s planning area boundary (MPA) is required to encompass the entire nonattainment area – unless the Governor and the MPO agree otherwise[ii]. After EPA’s designation, there was an extensive discussion whether the CDTC planning boundary should be expanded to include all six nonattainment counties. Since they were (are) outside the area that was likely to become urbanized with the CDTC’s 20-year forecast, CDTC and the Governor decided to keep the existing planning boundary (the four urban counties) and let NYSDOT handle the two rural nonattainment counties.
In 1994, after several years of no monitored violations greater than allowable[iii], EPA announced that it was proposing a determination that the Capital District area has attained the NAAQS[iv]. However, the area has yet to be redesignated. It was expected that the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation would petition EPA during 1994/95 to reclassify the area as attainment; however, said petition has not yet been made, and thus the area remains as a marginal non-attainment area. Based on monitored data, the Capital District has not been in violation of 1-hour ozone standard since 1989.
Conformity of TIPs and Plans
Nonattainment areas, such as the Capital District, are subject to two sets of related regulations: the USDOT’s metropolitan transportation regulations (23 C.F.R. Part 450) and EPA’s transportation conformity regulations (40 C.F.R. Parts 51 and 93). Basically, the transportation regulations say that projects in nonattainment areas that are proposed for funding with FHWA and FTA monies cannot proceed unless they come for an air quality “conforming” TIP and Plan.
While an area’s attainment designation is based on the pollutant levels physically monitored by NYSDEC, the MPO must theoretically demonstrate that the implementation of projects and strategies in its TIP and Plan meet the tests established in the State Implementation Plan to enable the area to reach attainment. This analysis process is known as the conformity process (i.e.; “conform” to the SIP). The analysis is based on “modeled” levels of pollutant emissions, using an MPO’s travel demand forecasting model and EPA’s latest MOBILE emissions model. Being a marginal nonattainment area, no specific emissions budgets are set in the SIP. Therefore, the “less than 1990” test is used in the conformity analysis.
though a marginal nonattainment area, the conformity
analysis process in Capital District nonattainment
area is not as basic as that of other nonattainment MPOs. A small
portion of northern
accordance with the CAAA90, conformity of transportation plans and programs in
each non-attainment and maintenance area is a requisite determination made
jointly by the FHWA and FTA, in consultation with EPA. In October 2003, the NYSDOT submitted the conformity analysis for CDTC’s 2003-2008 TIP and for the New Visions 2021 Plan
to FHWA and FTA on
Agreements and Consultation
The transportation planning
regulations require formal agreements within air quality nonattainment
areas under certain circumstances, two of which apply to CDTC. EPA’s conformity regulations, similarly,
require a high degree of coordination among Federal, State and local entities
and therefore have rules for the establishment of formal procedures of Interagency
Consultation to ensure that all groups are involved. In
The transportation regulations require two agreements that are applicable to the CDTC:
Agreement between MPO, State,
State Air Quality Agency and others describing planning and Air Quality
Conformity process in “Donut” areas.[vi] The Capital District ozone nonattainment
area includes the four central counties, plus two rural counties outside of CDTC’s planning area:
Agreement between MPOs and the State when more than one MPO serves the nonattainment area.[vii]
As noted previously, the Adirondack/Glens Falls Transportation Council
(A/GFTC) is the MPO for the
New Air Quality Nonattainment Status
As required by the CAAA90, EPA
reevaluates the NAAQS every five years and makes appropriate revisions to
protect public health. In
Actions to Improve Air Quality
Because the Capital District has been a marginal nonattainment area for the 1-hour ozone standard, there are no applicable transportation requirements or commitments in the SIP. Therefore, no goals, directives or recommendations of the plan conflict with the SIP or interfere with the implementation of transportation control measures (TCM) therein. However, CDTC does strive to include TCM-like activities in the region. As noted in the its 2003 conformity analysis[x], CDTC point to the following actions to improve air quality:
· Programs for improved public transit
· TDM measures
· Traffic flow improvements
· Park and Ride lots
· Commuter Register website for ridesharing matching
· Guaranteed Ride Home program
· Bicycle and Pedestrian considerations in New Visions
· Congestion Management System
Regarding air quality considerations, CDTC’s process is very good.
Capital District Clean Communities
The Capital District is
participating in the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) “Clean Cities” program,
the Capital District Clean Communities being the medium of participation. Clean Cities coalitions are voluntary,
locally based government/industry partnerships to mobilize local stakeholders
in an effort to expand the use of alternatives to gasoline and diesel fuel,
accelerate the deployment of Alternative Fuel Vehicles (AFV), and build a local
AFV refueling infrastructure.[xi] Presently, six urban areas of
CDTC (Deborah Stacey) has commendably assumed the lead role in this coordination effort here in the capital District, with $25,000 allotted in the 2004-05 UPWP. The Capital District Clean Communities has sponsored alternative-fuel events and help their members to develop partnerships and identify funding opportunities. The regular meetings provide a forum for stakeholders (e.g., CDTA, the Albany County Airport Authority, local governments, private sector representatives) to jointly explore new technologies.
The DOE has recognized the
Albany-Buffalo portion of the New York State Thruway (I-90) as a “Clean
Corridor”, one of twelve such corridors in the Country. Four Clean Cities coalitions (
CDTC is congratulated for its decision to
lead this effort in the Capital District.
It is the only MPO that has this role in
[i] There are three monitoring sites within the Capital
District: Loudonville Reservoir (
[ii] 23 CFR 450.308(a)
[iii] An area is allowed three exceedances of the1-hour ozone standard over a three-year period.
[v] These counties, which are outside the metropolitan planning boundary and inside the nonattainment/maintenance area boundary, are referred to as "donut" areas.
[vi] 23 CFR 450.314(f)
[vii] 23 CFR 450.314(g)
[viii] 8-hr standard (0.08 ppm) – find the 4th highest 8-hour value in the year. Average for three years and see if you exceed the standard.
[ix] Following the 2000 Census, the Office of
Management and Budget revised the Albany-Schenectady-Troy MSA definition to be
Cities Game Plan 1998/99,
[xii] Clean Communities of Western New York (Buffalo), Clean Communities of Central New York (Syracuse), Capital Region Clean Communities (Albany), Greater Long Island Clean Cities Coalition (Long Island), Genesee Region Clean Communities (Rochester) and New York City Clean Cities.