Rep. Titus (D-NV) introduced legislation today in the U.S. House of Representatives calling for modernization of the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement (CMAQ) Program administered by the Federal Highway Administration. The amendment was based on research conducted by the Air Quality Program and was drafted by Air Quality Program Director, Kevin Cromar.
CMAQ is a federal transportation program designed to provide a flexible funding source to state and local governments for transportation projects to help meet the requirements of the Clean Air Act. It provides approximately $2.5 billion annually to state and local governments to fund transportation projects that would reduce air emissions in communities. However, the equations in the current CMAQ funding formula are based on an outdated understanding of air pollution and use data from 20 years ago. Using up-to-date pollution and population data in the funding formula will ensure that the funding is distributed to communities most in need of, and therefore most able to benefit from, transportation-related air-pollution-mitigation projects.
Specifically, the legislation would:
- Update the CMAQ funding allocation to use current population data;
- Update CMAQ funding allocation formulas to use recent EPA air pollution monitoring data for fine particulate matter and ozone pollution;
- Ensure CMAQ resources are directed to communities with the greatest need for air pollution mitigation funding;
- Provide every state, regardless of air quality levels, a minimum of 0.5% and a maximum of 25% of total CMAQ funds;
- Provide more flexibility to states by clarifying that cost-effective emission reduction projects not specifically listed are still eligible for funding, subject to all other requirements of the program.
This proposed legislation is the first step of continued efforts to improve air quality in the United States through cost-effective utilization of funds from the CMAQ program.