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FHWA CMAQ Changes to Shift More Money to PM 2.5 Nonattainment Areas

On Monday, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) proposed changes that would modify the spending formulas used by states to allocate available CMAQ funding. CMAQ funding is made available to states to help them reduce congestion or pollution in an effort to help areas meet federal air quality standards. The changes would not alter the total amount of funds available to any state. The change implements a MAP-21 (the most recent transportation reauthorization law) requirement that states that receive CMAQ funding and that have PM 2.5 non-attainment or maintenance areas must devote 25 percent of the funds attributable to PM 2.5 toward projects that reduce fine particulate matter emissions. In order to determine how much additional funds must be devoted to such projects, states will have to perform a calculation that includes weighting of populations according to the severity of non- attainment status. Under the planned changes, populations in PM 2.5 non-attainment areas would receive a much higher score than for other pollutants (e.g., ozone, carbon monoxide). FHWA for example currently uses a factor 1.4 for extreme ozone non-attainment areas. FHWA has proposed using a weighting factor of 5 for PM 2.5 non-attainment areas and 1.0 for PM 2.5 maintenance areas. FHWA has requested comments on the proposal. Persons interested in submitting comments should do so by October 3, 2014.