Tom Ewing’s Environmental Update

* DOT announced a pilot program to permit direct Federal-aid funding of up to five Local Public Agencies (LPAs). These LPAs will be subject to Federal oversight. However, state DOTs are “relieved” of direct project oversight and accountability! This is a five-year program, it could be extended. Applications are due by 11/25/16.

* Last week, EPA finalized its Cross-State Air Pollution Rule Update (CSAPR Update) dealing with the 2008 ozone standard. Yes, that’s 2008 – and this is 2016, and the 2008 ozone standard was supplanted by the 2015 standard over a year ago. How much tougher will the next Update have to be to deal with the current lower standard? Well, wait another eight years and you might find out! That’s a helpful schedule for a topic critically linked to economic growth and industrial planning. The NY Times reported last week about how small, urban manufacturing is important for minority employment, providing an initial leg-up on steady work that pays well. Hmmm… whaddya think? Are these issues connected…? Do people actually pay a dear price for inexplicable and unapproachable regulatory programs…? Awww, c’mon…!

* A review of the Governors’ reports on how/whether their states comply with the new, 2015, ozone standard is interesting. These reports were due to EPA by 09/30. The Agency has not yet made them available. However, from a review of 17 such reports compiled by another group it appears that nonattainment areas expand in some metro areas but get smaller elsewhere. Of four east coast state reports available (i.e., ozone transport states, see above) the Governors write that their entire state complies with the new standard except for the usual suspects: a few big-city metro areas (e.g., NYCity, Washington, DC), where O3 levels remain slightly above the new standard. EPA will review the Governors’ reports and make its own decisions regarding agreement/disagreement with the Governors’ conclusions. (Lemme know if you want to get in the, uh, “office pool” on how this turns out…)

Tom Ewing