The 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments as well as the 1991 ISTEA (Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act) forged strong relationships between regional transportation and air quality plans to achieve acceptable air quality. A sound and achievable SIP (State Implementation Plan [for air quality]) is the cornerstone of this integrated planning requirement.
The Utah Department of Transportation has prepared guidance documentation for air quality 'hot spot' analysis. Individual transportation projects may require 'hot spot' analysis to meet NEPA regulations and/or project level transportation conformity requirements under the Clean Air Act."
There is a separate section in the SIP for each major regulated pollutant and each designated air quality non-attainment or maintenance area. Within the Wasatch Front Region, there are four areas that require individual sections: Salt Lake County, Davis County, Ogden City and Salt Lake City. Regulated pollutants include PM10 , PM2.5 , ozone, carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons.
In June 2005, the original 1-hour ozone standard was revoked inasmuch as EPA has established a new 8-hour ozone standard. Salt Lake and Davis Counties are in attainment for the new 8-hour standard, so the original SIP for these has been replaced by a plan to maintain ozone related emissions at or below levels that are meeting the new standard. Access to current Utah Division of Air Quality SIP can be found by clicking here.
In September 2006 the EPA implemented a more stringent PM2.5 standard of 35 μg/m3 replacing the former 65 μg/m3 standard. The range of PM2.5 measurements for the urbanized counties along the Wasatch Front Region, including Weber, Davis, and Salt Lake, is 32–53 μg/m3. EPA is expected to designate these and other Counties in Utah as PM2.5 non-attainment areas effective April 2009. The Utah Division of Air Quality will need to develop a new plan to reduce PM2.5 related emissions to the point that the Wasatch Front Region will once again be in compliance with national PM2.5 standards. Emission reductions for cars and trucks that were enacted in 2004 and 2007 respectively will be instrumental in the DAQ plan to achieve the new PM2.5 standard. The WFRC Regional Transportation Plan will also aid in the emission reduction effort by reducing pollution that comes from traffic congestion and by improving transit service (bus, light rail, and commuter rail) to reduce our dependence on private automobiles.
Wasatch Front Regional Council, UDOT (Utah Department of Transportation) and USDOT (U.S. Department of Transportation) must demonstrate that the 30 year RTP (Regional Transportation Plan) and the five year TIP (Transportation Improvement Plan) conform to the goals, objectives, and broad intentions each section of the SIP as it applies to each county or city designated as a “non-attainement” or “maintenance” area. Establishing conformity between the regional transportation plan and the adopted Utah State SIPs is required in order to qualify for federal transportation funds for the region. A copy of the most recent Regional Council conformity report can be found by clicking here.
In the urbanized areas of Salt Lake and Ogden, where growth is strong and economic development is well diversified, policy decisions need to be addressed for the public to continue making strides in cleaning the air and enjoying efficient mobility. Two main objectives must be met to satisfy the transportation interests in air quality planning. First, SIPs need to be developed to meet the required air quality guidelines of the region and to identify ways in which air quality improvements may take place during periods of rapid growth. Second, transportation improvements, and mobility needs in general, must be consistent with the air quality needs of the region. In the end, air quality plans must “budget” the emissions that are allowed to come from each source. Transportation plans and programs must stay within the transportation sector’s ”budget” for the region to attain and maintain healthy air. Out of this conformity process, priority must be placed on measures which effectively move people and goods and meet air quality requirements.
All current transportation plans for the Wasatch Front Region conform to the established SIP and its various sections. Changes are being made to federal air quality standards which will require corresponding changes to the SIP. The Wasatch Front Region is currently in attainment (or “maintenance”) for all major regulated pollutants, although non-attainment designations for PM2.5 are expected in Weber, Davis, and Salt Lake Counties by April 2009 as noted above.