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Air Quality

Recent Developments Archive

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DOT, EPA Tighten Fuel Economy, Emissions Limits for Heavy, Medium Trucks

The Environmental Protection Agency and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration have jointly issued a final rule that establishes tightened greenhouse gas emission standards and fuel economy standards for medium- and heavy-duty trucks, ranging from school buses to dump trucks. Phased in from model year 2018 through 2027, the rule is estimated to prevent 1.1 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions, save vehicle owners $170 billion in fuel costs and reduce oil consumption by up to 2 billion barrels over the its lifetime.The rule will result in approximately 10 percent more greenhouse gas reductions than the proposal. Also, the rule is estimated to provide some $230 billion in net benefits once fully implemented, with benefits outweighing costs eight to one. For more information, see the Department of Transportation announcement, a joint announcement issued by the EPA and the Department of Transportation, and a fact sheet on the regulation. (8-16-16)

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EPA Partners with MPOs to Determine Emissions Reductions from Travel Efficiency

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has partnered with the metropolitan planning organizations in Atlanta, St. Louis, and Orlando to understand the potential of travel efficiency strategies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and other air pollutants. EPA used its Travel Efficiency Assessment Method (TEAM) to quantify the potential emission benefits of strategies such as telecommuting, transit subsidies, public transit fare changes and service improvements, road and parking pricing, and land use/smart growth. For more information, link to the study report. (7-21-16)

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FHWA Seeks Nominations for Alternative Fuel Corridors

The Federal Highway Administration is seeking nominations for alternative fuel corridor designations. Any state or local agency is invited to nominate a highway corridor for designation as a national electric vehicle charging, hydrogen, propane, or natural gas fueling corridor. An eligible corridor must be a segment of the National Highway System, but may also include feeder routes and roads that connect to the system. Corridors in a single state and multi-state corridors are both eligible. The FHWA will select the corridors based on the nominations received, using specified criteria. Nominations should be submitted by August 22, but late submissions will be considered if possible. For more information, view the solicitation published in the Federal Register. (7-22-16)

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FHWA Newsletter Highlights Air Quality and Climate Change News

The Federal Highway Administration has published the June/July 2016 newsletter highlighting air quality and climate change news. The newsletter covers announcements and recent events, such as the recent selection by the FHWA of green infrastructure research projects, proposed and final rules being released, updates to the MOVES greenhouse gas guidance and reports published on climate change resilience pilot projects. The newsletter also lists upcoming meetings, conferences and workshops; reminders of recent news and upcoming deadlines; training opportunities; and contact information. For more information, link to the newsletter. (7-21-16) 

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FHWA Posts Five Mobile Source Air Toxics Case Studies

The Federal Highway Administration has posted five mobile source air toxics (MSAT) analysis case studies. The California case study concerns improvements to the State Route 57/SR60 confluence at the Grand Avenue interchange in Los Angeles County, Calif. The study found that the build alternative leads to significant decreases in all MSAT pollutants. The Illinois case study found that emissions increased due to the Elgin O-Hare-West Byass project as compared to the no-build alternative, but it is still a reduction compared to existing MSAT emissions because of national pollutant control programs. The Georgia, Minnesota and New York case studies all found no meaningful differences in overall MSAT emissions between the no-build and build alternatives for their respective projects. For more information, link to case studies on California, Georgia, Illinois, Minnesota and New York. (6-22-16)

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Videos on Air Quality Issues for Highway Planning Posted by TRB

A series of four videos on air quality fundamentals for the highway planning process have been posted by the Transportation Research Board. The topics include an introduction, the science of air quality, traffic considerations, and air quality impact analysis. The series is intended to help viewers understand how vehicles and highway projects impact air quality at the regional and project scales. The on-demand videos are free and available to the public. For more information, link to the videos. (6-9-16) 

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Transportation Air Quality Trends, Policies Published

The Federal Highway Administration has published a brochure providing an overview of facts and figures related to transportation and air quality. The brochure focuses on transportation-related emissions trends, policies, technologies and standards that effect on-road mobile sources, including automobiles, light-duty trucks and heavy-duty trucks. For more information, link to the brochure. (5-3-16)

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FHWA Publishes Air Quality and Transportation Conformity Highlights

The Federal Highway Administration has published highlights of recent actions on air quality and transportation conformity. The highlights list announcements and recent events, research, reminders, training opportunities and contacts. The announcements include overviews of the Climate Change Adaptation Guide for Transportation Systems Management, Operations, and Maintenance: A Primer; the congestion and mitigation air quality improvement (CMAQ) cost effectiveness tables; the Framework for Better Integrating Health into Transportation Decision Making; and the 11th National Transportation Asset Management Conference. For more information, see the highlights. (3-30-16)

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Diesel Engine Grant Program Nets Major Air, Public Health Benefits

The EPA has released a report showing that clean diesel grants aimed at cleaning up old diesel engines has greatly improved public health by cutting pollution that causes premature deaths, asthma attacks and missed school and workdays. The program has helped clean up approximately 335,200 tons of nitrogen oxides and 14,700 tons of particulate matter, saved 450 million gallons of fuel and prevented 4.8 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions. The grant program was started in 2008 and has significantly improved air quality for communities across the county by retrofitting and replacing older diesel engines. EPA estimates that clean diesel funding generates up to $13 of public health benefit for $1 spent on diesel projects. For more information, see the report. (3-23-16)

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CMAQ Cost-Effectiveness Tables Posted by FHWA

The Federal Highway Administration has released cost effectiveness tables to assist states, metropolitan planning organizations, and other sponsors in making efficient use of their Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program (CMAQ) dollars. The tables represent various types of transportation projects that were previously funded under the CMAQ program. Cost-effective project types include truck stop electrification, heavy-duty vehicle engine replacements, and diesel retrofits, among others. The FHWA guidance will aid in reducing on-road vehicle emissions and traffic congestion throughout the U.S. For more information, see report. (3-18-16)

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EPA Provides Resource on Reducing Traffic-Related Air Pollution at Schools

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has released a document to give schools and parents ideas on how to reduce children’s exposure to traffic-related air pollution at schools. It offers strategies for limiting exposure, including ventilation and filtration, school siting and layout decisions, anti-idling policies, bus fleet upgrades, sound walls, vegetative barriers, and other actions staff can take. The document also contains a school ventilation checklist and links to additional resources. For more information, link to the document. (1-26-16)

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EPA Reports on Light-duty Auto CO2 Emissions, Fuel Economy Trends Since 1975

The Environmental Protection Agency has issued a report on light-duty automotive technology, carbon dioxide emissions, and fuel economy trends from 1975 through 2015. The report includes final data from model year 2014 and preliminary data from model year 2015. For 2014, the fleetwide average CO2 emissions rate for new vehicles is 366 grams per mile, the same as in model year 2013. The model year 2014 fuel economy value is 24.3 mpg, also unchanged from model year 2013. Preliminary model year 2015 adjusted values are 360 grams per mile CO2 emissions and 24.7 mpg fuel economy, which, if achieved, will represent record levels and an improvement over model year 2014. EPA cautioned that final data for 2015 may change, particularly because of declining gasoline prices as well as adjustments that may be required because of Volkswagen’s alleged emissions reporting violations. For more information, link to the report. (1-4-16)

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Featured Case Study

  • Case Study Photo

    Georgia DOT supports a range of efforts such as the Georgia Commute Options Program to help reduce auto-related air emissions.

    Read Case Study >Photo: Georgia DOT

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