United States              Air and Radiation          EPA420-F-02-032
Environmental Protection                           July 2002
Agency
Office of Transportation and Air Quality

Regulatory

Announcement
 Final Rule: Amendments to
 Transportation  Conformity Rule
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is finalizing two
changes to its transportation conformity rule to provide state and local
governments with additional time in the transportation conformity
process.

Changes
The first change incorporates into the conformity rule a minor amend-
ment to the Clean Air Act (CAA), enacted on October 27, 2000, that
gives new nonattainment areas a one-year grace period before confor-
mity applies. Areas designated nonattainment for the first time will have
a one-year grace period before conformity applies following the effec-
tive date of their nonattainment designation.

The second change will help areas implement conformity in a practi-
cable manner consistent with a March 2,  1999, decision by the U.S.
Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit Court. The final rule ensures that
state and local governments will have sufficient time to complete the
conformity process when a new air quality plan with a motor vehicle
emissions budget is submitted. A budget  is the level of emissions from
cars and trucks that the state has determined is consistent with clean air
goals.

Specifically, the final rule revises the timing for redetermining confor-
mity after a State submits an air quality plan for the first time (an "ini-
tial" State Implementation Plan, or "SIP"). This rule change provides
transportation planners with the time needed to determine conformity to
an initial SIP submission and more certainty regarding the adequacy of
the motor vehicle emissions budgets to be used in the determination.

                                         SJQ Printed on Recycled Paper

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The current conformity rule requires a conformity determination within
18 months of a state submitting an initial SIP, so that new air quality
information is considered expeditiously in the transportation planning
process. The final rule changes the timing of this requirement, so that
conformity is required within 18 months of EPA's finding that the state's
submitted budgets are appropriate for use in the conformity process
(approximately three months after an initial  SIP is submitted). The court
held that the budgets from an air quality plan cannot be used in confor-
mity until EPA finds the SIP budgets "adequate."
Background
The CAA, as amended in 1990, requires that transportation planning and
air quality planning must be coordinated to achieve air quality standards.
On November 24, 1993, EPA promulgated the transportation conformity
rule to fulfill the CAA mandate that transportation plans, programs, and
projects not produce new air quality violations, worsen existing viola-
tions, or delay timely attainment of CAA standards. EPA has since
amended the conformity rule several times.
         and
This rulemaking will continue to support the CAA's air quality standards
to protect public and environmental health. The final rule does not result
in any change in health and environmental benefits.
For
You can access documents on transportation conformity electronically
on the Office of Transportation and Air Quality's Web site at:
www.epa.gov/otaq/transp/traqconf.htm (once at this site, click on "con-
formity").

For further information about the final rule, please contact Angela
Spickard at:

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Office of Transportation and Air Quality
Transportation and Regional Programs Division
2000 Traverwood Drive
Ann Arbor, Michigan 48105
(734)214-4283

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