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Virginia Administrative Code
Title 9. Environment
Agency 5. State Air Pollution Control Board
Chapter 151. Regulation for Transportation Conformity
11/13/2019

9VAC5-151-70. Consultation.

A. The MPOs, LPOs, DEQ, VDOT and VDRPT shall undertake the procedures prescribed in this section for interagency consultation, conflict resolution and public consultation with each other and with local or regional offices of EPA, FHWA, and FTA on the development of control strategy implementation plan revisions, the list of TCMs in the applicable implementation plan, transportation plans, TIPs, and associated conformity determinations required by this chapter.

B. Until EPA grants approval of this chapter, the MPOs, and VDOT and VDRPT, prior to making conformity determinations, shall provide reasonable opportunity for consultation with LPOs, DEQ and EPA on the issues in subdivision D 1 of this section.

C. The provisions of this subsection shall be followed with regard to general factors associated with interagency consultation.

1. Representatives of the MPOs, VDOT, VDRPT, FHWA, and FTA shall undertake an interagency consultation process, in accordance with subdivisions 1 and 3 of this subsection and subsection D of this section, with the LPOs, DEQ and EPA on the development of implementation plans, transportation plans, TIPs, any revisions to the preceding documents, and associated conformity determinations.

a. MPOs, or their designee, shall be the lead agencies responsible for preparing the final document or decision and for assuring the adequacy of the interagency consultation process with respect to the development of the transportation plan, the TIP, and any amendments or revisions thereto. In the case of nonmetropolitan areas, VDOT shall be the lead agency responsible for preparing the final document or decision and for assuring the adequacy of the interagency consultation process with respect to the development of the statewide transportation plan, the statewide TIP, and any amendments or revisions thereto. The MPOs shall be the lead agencies responsible for preparing the final document or decision and for assuring the adequacy of the interagency consultation process with respect to any determinations of conformity under this chapter for which the MPO is responsible.

b. It shall be the affirmative responsibility of the lead agency to initiate the process by notifying other participants, convene meetings, assure that all relevant documents and information are supplied to all participants in the consultation process in a timely manner, prepare summaries of consultation meetings, maintain a written record of the consultation process, provide final documents and supporting information to each agency after approval or adoption, and to assure the adequacy of the interagency consultation process with respect to the subject document or decision.

c. Regular consultation on major activities (such as the development of a transportation plan, the development of a TIP, or any determination of conformity on transportation plans or TIPs) shall include meetings beginning on a date determined by the lead agency to be adequate to meet the date a final document is required and continuing at frequency mutually determined by the affected agencies. In addition, technical meetings shall be convened as necessary.

d. Each lead agency in the consultation process shall confer with all other agencies identified under subdivision 1 of this subsection with an interest in the document to be developed, provide all information to those agencies needed for meaningful input, solicit early and continuing input from those agencies, and prior to taking any action, consider the views of each agency and respond to those views in a timely, substantive written manner prior to any final decision on the documents. The views and written responses shall be made part of the record of any decision or action.

e. It shall be the responsibility of each agency specified in subdivision 1 of this subsection, when not fulfilling the responsibilities of lead agency, to confer with the lead agency and other participants in the consultation process, review and comment as appropriate (including comments in writing) on all proposed and final documents and decisions in a timely manner, attend consultation and decision meetings, provide input on any area of substantive expertise or responsibility, and provide technical assistance to the lead agency or to the consultation process when requested.

2. Representatives of the LPOs, DEQ, and EPA shall undertake an interagency consultation process, in accordance with this subdivision and subdivision 3 of this subsection, with MPOs, VDOT, VDRPT, FHWA, and FTA on the development of control strategy implementation plan revisions, the list of TCMs in the applicable implementation plan, and any revisions to the preceding documents.

a. The DEQ, in conjunction with the LPOs, shall be the lead agency responsible for preparing the final document or decision and for assuring the adequacy of the interagency consultation process with respect to the development of control strategy implementation plan revisions, the credits associated with the list of TCMs in the applicable implementation plan, and any amendments or revisions thereto.

b. It shall be the affirmative responsibility of the lead agency to initiate the process by notifying other participants, convene meetings, assure that all relevant documents and information are supplied to all participants in the consultation process in a timely manner, prepare minutes of consultation meetings, maintain a written record of the consultation process, provide final documents and supporting information to each agency after approval or adoption, and to assure the adequacy of the interagency consultation process with respect to the subject document or decision.

c. Regular consultation on the development of any control strategy implementation plan revision shall include meetings beginning on a date determined by the lead agency to be adequate to meet the date a final document is required and continuing at frequency mutually determined by the affected agencies. In addition, technical meetings shall be convened as necessary.

d. Each lead agency in the consultation process shall confer with all other agencies identified under subdivision 1 of this subsection with an interest in the document to be developed, provide all information to those agencies needed for meaningful input, solicit early and continuing input from those agencies, and prior to taking any action, consider the views of each agency and respond to those views in a timely, substantive written manner prior to any final decision on the documents. The views and written responses shall be made part of the record of any decision or action.

e. It shall be the responsibility of each agency specified in subdivision 1 of this subsection, when not fulfilling the responsibilities of lead agency, to confer with the lead agency and other participants in the consultation process, review and comment as appropriate (including comments in writing) on all proposed and final documents and decisions in a timely manner, attend consultation and decision meetings, provide input on any area of substantive expertise or responsibility, and provide technical assistance to the lead agency or to the consultation process when requested.

3. The specific roles and responsibilities of various participants in the interagency consultation process shall be as follows:

a. The MPOs shall be responsible for the following:

(1) Developing metropolitan transportation plans and TIPs in accordance with 23 CFR Part 450 and 49 CFR Part 613 and the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient, Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (Public Law No. 109-59).

(2) Adopting conformity determinations in conjunction with the adoption of transportation plans and TIPs and any revisions to the documents.

(3) In cooperation with VDOT, with assistance from VDRPT:

(a) Developing conformity assessments and associated documentation.

(b) Evaluating potential TCM projects and impacts.

(c) (i) Developing or approving transportation and related socio-economic data and planning assumptions, or both, and (ii) providing the data and assumptions for use in air quality analysis for implementation plan tracking and conformity of transportation plans, TIPs and projects.

(d) Monitoring regionally significant projects.

(e) Providing technical and policy input into the development of emissions budgets.

(f) Assuring the proper completion of transportation modeling, regional emissions analyses and documentation of timely implementation of TCMs needed for conformity assessments.

(g) Involving the DEQ and LPOs continuously in the process.

(h) Consulting with FHWA and FTA on (i) timely action on final findings of conformity, after consultation with other agencies as provided in this section; and (ii) guidance on conformity and the transportation planning process to agencies in interagency consultation.

(i) Consulting with EPA on (i) review and approval of updated motor vehicle emissions factors, emission inventories and budgets; and (ii) guidance on conformity criteria and procedures to the agencies involved in the interagency consultation process.

b. The VDOT, with assistance from the VDRPT, shall be responsible for the following:

(1) Developing statewide transportation plans and statewide TIPs.

(2) Providing demand forecasting and on-road mobile source emission inventories.

(3) Circulating draft and final project environmental documents to other agencies.

(4) Convening air quality technical review meetings on specific projects as needed or when requested by other agencies.

(5) In cooperation with the MPOs:

(a) Developing conformity assessments and associated documentation.

(b) Evaluating potential TCM projects and impacts.

(c) (i) Developing or approving transportation and related planning assumptions, or both, and (ii) providing the data and assumptions for use in air quality analysis for implementation plan tracking and conformity of transportation plans, TIPs and projects.

(d) Monitoring regionally significant projects.

(e) Providing technical and policy input into the development of emissions budgets.

(f) Assuring the proper completion of transportation modeling, regional emissions analyses and documentation of timely implementation of TCMs need for conformity assessments.

(g) Involving the DEQ and LPOs continuously in the process.

(h) Consulting with FHWA and FTA on (i) timely action on final findings of conformity, after consultation with other agencies as provided in this section; and (ii) guidance on conformity and the transportation planning process to agencies in interagency consultation.

(i) Consulting with EPA on (i) review and approval of updated motor vehicle emissions factors, emission inventories and budgets; and (ii) guidance on conformity criteria and procedures to the agencies involved in the interagency consultation process.

c. The LPOs shall be responsible for the following:

(1) Developing emissions inventories and budgets.

(2) Developing control strategy implementation plan revisions and maintenance plans.

(3) Providing a staff liaison to the MPOs for conformity and to be responsive to MPO requests for information and technical guidance.

(4) Involving the MPOs, VDOT AND VDRPT continuously in the process.

d. The DEQ shall be responsible for the following:

(1) Developing emissions inventories and budgets.

(2) Tracking attainment of air quality standards, and emission factor model updates.

(3) Gaining final approval at state level for control strategy implementation plan revisions and maintenance plans.

(4) Providing a staff liaison to the LPOs for conformity and to be responsive to LPO requests for information and technical guidance.

(5) Involving the LPOs continuously in the process.

e. The FHWA and FTA shall be responsible for the following:

(1) Assuring timely action on final findings of conformity, after consultation with other agencies as provided in this section.

(2) Providing guidance on conformity and the transportation planning process to agencies in interagency consultation.

f. The EPA shall be responsible for the following:

(1) Reviewing and approving updated motor vehicle emissions factors.

(2) Providing guidance on conformity criteria and procedures to agencies in interagency consultation.

(3) Assuring timely action on conformity analysis and findings and implementation plan revisions.

4. The MPOs, LPOs, DEQ, VDOT and VDRPT may enter into agreements to set forth specific consultation procedures in more detail that are not in conflict with this section.

D. The provisions of this subsection shall be followed with regard to specific processes associated with interagency consultation.

1. An interagency consultation process involving the MPOs, LPOs, DEQ, VDOT, VDRPT, EPA, FHWA, and FTA shall be undertaken for the following:

a. Evaluating and choosing each model (or models) and associated methods and assumptions to be used in hot-spot analyses and regional emission analyses, including vehicle miles traveled (VMT) forecasting, to be initiated by VDOT, in consultation with the MPOs, and conducted in accordance with subdivisions C 1 and 3 of this section.

b. Determining which transportation projects should be considered "regionally significant" for the purpose of regional emission analysis (in addition to those functionally classified as principal arterial or higher; or fixed guideway systems or extensions that offer an alternative to regional highway travel), and which projects should be considered to have a significant change in design concept and scope from the transportation plan or TIP, to be initiated by VDOT, in consultation with the MPOs, and conducted in accordance with subdivisions C 1 and 3 of this section.

c. Evaluating whether projects otherwise exempted from meeting the requirements of 40 CFR 93.126 and 40 CFR 93.127 should be treated as nonexempt in cases where potential adverse emissions impacts may exist for any reason, to be initiated by VDOT, in consultation with the MPOs, and conducted in accordance with subdivisions C 1 and 3 of this section.

d. Making a determination, as required by 40 CFR 93.113(c)(1), whether past obstacles to implementation of TCMs that are behind the schedule established in the applicable implementation plan have been identified and are being overcome, and whether state and local agencies with influence over approvals or funding for TCMs are giving maximum priority to approval or funding for TCMs, to be initiated by VDOT as lead agency, in consultation with the MPOs and VDRPT, and conducted in accordance with subdivisions C 1 and 3 of this section. This consultation process shall also consider whether delays in TCM implementation necessitate revisions to the applicable implementation plan to remove TCMs or substitute TCMs or other emission reduction measures.

e. Notifying all parties to the consultation process of transportation plan or TIP amendments that merely add or delete exempt projects listed in 40 CFR 93.126 or 40 CFR 93.127, to be initiated by VDOT in consultation with the MPOs, and conducted in accordance with subdivisions C 1 and 3 of this section.

f. Choosing conformity tests and methodologies for isolated rural nonattainment and maintenance areas, as required by 40 CFR 93.109(g)(2)(iii), to be initiated by VDOT, in consultation with the MPOs, and in accordance with subdivisions C 1 and 3 of this section.

g. Determining what forecast of vehicle miles traveled (VMT) to use in establishing or tracking emissions budgets, developing transportation plans, TIPs, or control strategy implementation plan revisions, or making conformity determinations, to be initiated by VDOT, in consultation with the MPOs, and in accordance with subdivisions C 1 and 3 of this section.

2. An interagency consultation process in accordance with subsection C of this section involving the MPOs, LPOs, DEQ, VDOT, and VDRPT shall be undertaken for the following:

a. Evaluating events that may trigger new conformity determinations in addition to those triggering events established by 40 CFR 93.104, to be initiated by VDOT, in consultation with the MPOs and DEQ, and conducted in accordance with subdivisions C 1 and 3 of this section.

b. Consulting on emissions analysis for transportation activities that cross the borders of MPOs or nonattainment areas, to be initiated by VDOT in consultation with the MPOs, and conducted in accordance with subdivisions C 1 and 3 of this section.

3. Where the metropolitan planning area does not include the entire nonattainment or maintenance area, an interagency consultation process in accordance with subdivisions C 1 and 3 of this section involving the MPOs and VDOT shall be undertaken for cooperative planning and analysis for purposes of determining conformity of all projects outside the metropolitan area and within the nonattainment or maintenance area, to be initiated by VDOT, in consultation with the MPOs, and in accordance with subdivisions C 1 and 3 of this section.

4. To assure that plans for construction of regionally significant projects that are not FHWA or FTA projects (including projects for which alternative locations, design concept and scope, or the no-build option are still being considered), including all those by recipients of funds designated under Title 23 USC or the Federal Transit Act, are disclosed to the MPO on a regular basis, and to assure that any changes to those plans are immediately disclosed, an interagency consultation process shall be undertaken, to be initiated by the MPO, in consultation with VDOT, and conducted in accordance with subdivisions C 1 and 3 of this section involving the MPO, VDOT, VDRPT, and recipients of funds designated under Title 23 USC or the Federal Transit Act.

5. An interagency consultation process in accordance with subsections C 1 and 3 of this section involving the MPOs and other recipients of funds designated under Title 23 USC or the Federal Transit Act shall be undertaken for developing assumptions regarding the location and design concept and scope of projects that are disclosed to the MPO as required by subdivision 4 of this subsection but whose sponsors have not yet decided these features in sufficient detail to perform the regional emissions analysis according to the requirements of 40 CFR 93.122, to be initiated by the MPO, in consultation with VDOT, and conducted in accordance with subdivisions C 1 and 3 of this section.

6. An interagency consultation process in accordance with subdivisions C 1 and 3 of this section shall be undertaken for the design, schedule, and funding of research and data collection efforts and model developments in regional transportation (such as household or travel transportation surveys) to be initiated by the MPO, in consultation with VDOT, and conducted in accordance with subdivisions C 1 and 3 of this section.

E. The provisions of this subsection shall be followed with regard to conflict resolution associated with interagency consultation.

1. Unresolved conflicts among state agencies, or between state agencies and the MPO(s), or among MPO member jurisdictions, shall be identified by an MPO or agency in writing to the other MPO, DEQ, VDOT, or VDRPT, with copies to FHWA, FTA and EPA. The MPO's or agency's written notice shall:

a. Explain the nature of the conflict;

b. Review options for resolving the conflict;

c. Describe the MPO's or agency's proposal to resolve the conflict;

d. Explain the consequences of not reaching a resolution; and

e. Request that comments on the matter be received within two weeks.

2. If the above action does not result in a resolution to the conflict, either of the following shall apply:

a. If the conflict is between the MPOs or between the MPO(s) and VDOT or VDRPT or both, then the parties shall follow the coordination procedures of 23 CFR 450.210.

b. If the conflict is between the MPO(s) or VDOT or VDRPT and the DEQ and the conflict can not be resolved by the affected agency heads, then the DEQ Director may elevate the conflict to the Governor in accordance with the procedures of subdivision 3 of this section. If the DEQ Director does not appeal to the Governor within 14 days as provided in subdivision 3 a of this subsection, the MPO or VDOT or VDRPT may proceed with its final conformity determination.

3. Appeals to the Governor by the DEQ Director under the provisions of subdivision 2 b of this subsection shall be in accordance with the following procedures:

a. The DEQ Director has 14 calendar days to appeal to the Governor after the MPO(s) or VDOT or VDRPT has notified the DEQ Director of the agency's or MPO's resolution of DEQ's comments. The notification to the DEQ Director shall be in writing and shall be hand-delivered. The 14-day clock shall commence when VDOT or VDRPT or the MPO has confirmed receipt by the DEQ Director of the agency's or MPO's resolution of the DEQ's comments.

b. The appeal to the Governor shall consist of the following: the conformity determination and any supporting documentation; DEQ's comments on the determination; the MPO(s) or VDOT or VDRPT resolution of DEQ's comments; and DEQ's appeal document.

c. The DEQ shall provide a complete appeal package to the MPO, VDOT and VDRPT within 24 hours of the time the appeal is filed with the Governor's Office.

d. If the Governor does not concur with the conformity determination, he may direct revision of the applicable implementation plan, revision of the planned program of projects, revision of the conformity analysis or any combination of the preceding.

e. If the Governor concurs with the conformity determination made by the MPO and VDOT, the MPO and VDOT may proceed with the final conformity determination.

f. The Governor may delegate his role in this process, but not to the agency head or staff of DEQ, VDOT or VDRPT or the Commonwealth Board of Transportation.

4. Nothing in this section shall prevent the state agencies and MPOs from making efforts upon their own initiative to obtain mutual conflict resolution through conference or other appropriate means.

F. The provisions of this subsection shall be followed with regard to public consultation.

1. The MPOs shall establish a proactive involvement process that provides reasonable opportunity for review and comment by, at a minimum, providing reasonable public access to technical and policy information considered by the MPO at the beginning of the public comment period and prior to taking formal action on a conformity determination for all transportation plans and TIPs, consistent with the requirements of 23 CFR 450.316(a).

2. The MPOs shall specifically address in writing public comments regarding plans for a regionally significant project, not receiving FHWA or FTA funding or approval, and how the project is properly reflected in the emission analysis supporting a proposed conformity finding for a transportation plan or TIP.

3. The MPOs shall also provide an opportunity for public involvement in conformity determinations for projects where otherwise required by law.

Statutory Authority

§ 10.1-1308 of the Code of Virginia; § 176(c) of the federal Clean Air Act.

Historical Notes

Derived from Volume 23, Issue 17, eff. May 31, 2007; amended, Virginia Register Volume 25, Issue 06, eff. December 31, 2008; Volume 27, Issue 11, eff. March 2, 2011; Volume 28, Issue 23, eff. August 15, 2012.

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