Transportation Controls Established in Major Urban Areas to Lower Air Pollution Levels

[EPA press release - October 15, 1973]

Russell E. Train, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator, today announced final transportation control measures to lower air pollution levels in several of the nation's largest cities including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Boston, Dallas, Denver and other urban areas.

The other areas include San Diego, Sacramento, and the San Joaquin Valley, California; Springfield, Massachusetts; Portland, Oregon; Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota; Cincinnati, Ohio; and the Texas cities of Austin-Waco, San Antonio, Fort Worth, Houston-Galveston and El Paso (Texas)-Las Cruces-Alamogordo (New Mexico).

By November 1, 1973, EPA plans to promulgate final plans for Seattle and Spokane, Washington; Chicago, Illinois; Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Washington, D.C. and its suburban communities in Virginia and Maryland; Salt Lake City, Utah; Phoenix and Tucson, Arizona; Newark-Trenton-Camden, New Jersey; Baltimore, Maryland; Fairbanks, Alaska.

EPA today also approved plans by Toledo and Dayton, Ohio, which state that transportation controls are unnecessary on the basis of new data.

A transportation plan for Indianapolis was re-proposed today due to the need for stricter controls than originally anticipated. On July 2, EPA proposed only a ban on open burning of refuse in Indianapolis. The new proposal, based on new data, includes possible exclusive bus lanes or parking surcharges, a vehicle inspection-maintenance program, retrofit of vacuum spark advance disconnect devices on pre-1968 vehicles, and controls on solvent usage and vapor losses from gas handling operations.

"All of the transportation strategies set today have been worked out through the closest cooperation possible between Federal, State and local officials," Train said. "We are fighting the urban pollution problem with every alternative possible to move people more efficiently in fewer cars."

In the California cities, where auto-related air pollution is generally considered to be among the worst in the nation, the transportation controls include parking restrictions, exclusive bus lanes, vehicle inspection-maintenance programs, a mass transit incentive plan by employers, controls on gas handling operations, exclusive bus use on some streets, special treatment for buses and car pools on military installations, metered ramps on some highway entrances with bypass lanes for buses and car pools, retrofit of air pollution control devices on autos, parking surcharges, and a contingency strategy of gasoline limitations.

Most of the other urban plans contain some combination of these controls, depending on the severity of the local air pollution problem.

"There is no question that some of the features of the plans set today are difficult to achieve," Train said, "but most of them are reasonable and achievable."

"It is in the area of producing reductions in the total number of vehicle miles traveled that we begin to see some of the exceedingly difficult aspects of some of the plans," he said. "Through such devices as traffic free zones, partial traffic bans, parking restrictions, and gasoline sales restrictions--to cite only a few--varying degrees of reductions in vehicle miles traveled can be obtained. Our studies suggest that reductions in the range of 10 to 20 percent can be achieved without imposing undue disruption of community life.

"Some of these strategies are going to require adjustments in our travel patterns and lifestyles," he said. "But they also promise a better life and more efficient travel. Mass transit is a key issue here. And we believe the tools are available to build urban transportation systems that utilize all modes to give us freedom of mobility and clean air."

Train reiterated EPA's intention to ask Congress for the flexibility necessary to work out achievable schedules for those cities with unduly drastic control measures.

Today's action marks a final step in developing the transportation controls required under the Clean Air Act, although several urban plans are yet to be finalized. EPA expects to issue the final group of controls by November 1, except for Indianapolis.

The Indianapolis re-proposal will require public hearings and a period for written comments. Final promulgation is expected by December 15.

Under the Clean Air Act of 1970, all States must submit plans for meeting the national ambient air quality standards set by EPA. Transportation control measures are required for any air quality control region where controls on stationary sources, such as power plants and other industries, and Federal auto emission standards are inadequate to insure attainment or maintenance of the ambient standards.

Under an order of the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia on January 31, 1973, EPA was required to propose and promulgate substitute provisions for disapproved State transportation plans by August 15, 1973. The court granted a subsequent consent decree filed by EPA and the Natural Resources Defense Council to extend the final deadline until October 15. A second EPA motion is now before the court which seeks to extend the deadline for plans until November 1. EPA is seeking a deadline of December 15 for Indianapolis.

Under the Clean Air Act, the transportation strategies must be designed to meet national ambient air quality standards by May 31, 1975. An extension of that attainment date, up to two years, may be granted by the EPA Administrator, if, after the adoption of all feasible control measures, he determines that the standards still cannot be reached by 1975.

Extensions were granted today to California (2 years), Boston and Springfield (2 years), Denver (2 years), San Antonio (2 years), Houston (2 years) and Dallas (1 year).