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Release Date: 2/14/2002
Contact Information: Leo Kay, Press Office, 415/947-4306

     Action Could Lift Freeze on Federal Transportation Funding for Bay Area

     SAN FRANCISCO   The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced today that the Bay Area Motor Vehicle Transportation Budgets   an estimate of future emissions from area cars, trucks and buses   are adequate to meet reductions necessary to attain the ozone standard in the Bay Area, a decision that allows transportation officials to lift current restrictions on federal highway funding.  

     These restrictions were imposed by the Federal Highway Administration on Jan. 21.

     "State and local agencies have given their commitment to work with us to secure the emission reductions necessary for clean air in the Bay Area," said Wayne Nastri, administrator of EPA's Pacific Southwest Regional Office. "We still have a lot of analytical work to do on the overall ozone attainment plan, including looking at the complex issue of Bay Area air pollution drifting east to the Central Valley.  Our work is far from done on this issue."

     The Bay Area Air Quality Management District, the Association of Bay Area Governments and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission sent the transportation emissions budgets to the EPA Nov. 30 as part of the 2001 Bay Area Plan to bring the area into attainment of federal standards for ozone, an air pollutant that can seriously affect human health.  The budgets account for the number of vehicles on Bay Area roadways in the coming years and then makes estimates on the amount of emissions from these vehicles that will affect local air quality.  The budgets demonstrate that the Bay Area will attain the national one-hour ozone standard in 2006 as long as emissions from motor vehicles do not exceed 164 tons per day of volatile organic compounds and 270.3 tons per day of nitrogen oxides.

     In the interest of maintaining an open process, the EPA immediately requested public comments to determine the adequacy of the transportation budgets component of the plan. Since the public comment period closed Jan. 7, a team of EPA attorneys, engineers and scientists have pored over and responded to voluminous complex public comment on the budgets.

     While the EPA has determined the transportation budget to be adequate, the agency continues its review of the entire Bay Area Ozone Plan, including proposed emission controls for refineries and metal coating, and transportation control measures.  The EPA will also work with state agencies to address the issue of intra-state transport of air pollution.

     Federal law requires that regional transportation plans conform to state clean air plan requirements, so that no deterioration of clean air results from inadequate transportation planning.  The EPA's action today will assist the MTC to advance its revised regional transportation plan.  The regional transportation plan expired on Jan. 21,  forcing the FHWA to initiate restrictions on federal highway funding, in what is known as a "transportation conformity lapse."

     Information on today's determination will be published shortly in the Federal Register and may be accessed at: http//