Funding for dozens of new transportation projects are at risk. At-risk projects include bus rapid transit, protected bike lanes in Chicago, suburban bike trails, the Lake Front Trail Flyover, Chicago’s bike share program, and CTA station repairs, among others.
That’s because the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says the Chicago region now meets federal air quality standards and, as such, potentially loses roughly $80 million per year in funding for transportation projects that help reduce air pollution, called the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) fund. In total, 115 CMAQ projects totaling $411 million over five years are at risk.
The EPA is relying on air quality data through 2010, but air pollution levels actually exceeded standards in 2011. The EPA wants to use a technicality to exclude the 2011 data.
If the EPA changes our air quality designation, the CMAQ dollars would not be eliminated until Congress passes a new transportation bill—but that could happen as soon as this spring.
Meanwhile, the Illinois EPA (not the same as the U.S. EPA) says the region still has an air quality problem and that the 2011 data bears that out. If CMAQ dollars are lost, it will be more difficult to achieve air quality standards in the long run.
Please email the U.S. EPA by 5 p.m. on Thursday January 19 and tell them the Chicago region has not resolved its air quality problems, and that the EPA should use 2011 air quality data and keep in place CMAQ funding for clean air transportation projects.
Your support could make an important difference. Thanks!
Comments should be emailed to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Attention Docket ID No. EPA–HQ–OAR–2008–0476.