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22 Literature Summary 6. The evolution toward system planning that incorpo- rates environmental considerations in a meaningful The literature presented in the previous sections covers a way must look at all aspects of this process. The tradi- wide range of topics that suggest the importance of incorpo- tional approach of including environmentally oriented rating environmental considerations early in systems plan- criteria for plan or project evaluation alone is not suffi- ning. The basic messages that result from this literature cient to result in meaningful early assessment of envi- search include the following: ronmental impacts. 1. Transportation and environmental professionals approach problems in very different ways. The underlying scien- LAWS, POLICIES, AND REGULATIONS tific concepts and the resulting analysis methods can lead the problem-solving search in various directions. Federal and state laws and regulations often provide an The meaningful incorporation of environmental con- important motivating factor for considering environmental siderations into transportation systems planning will factors in transportation planning and decision making. require transportation professionals to rethink the rela- Respondents to the project survey, and many of those inter- tionship between transportation investments and the viewed for the case studies, pointed to such laws and regula- environment. tions as being the most important reason for environmental 2. The "systems" perspective is a key point of departure considerations being incorporated into transportation plan- for examining environmental impacts and understand- ning and decision making. This section reviews some of the ing the relationships between the construction and more important federal laws and regulations that relate to operation of the transportation system, ecological sys- transportation and environmental quality, and provides tems, and the built environment. This perspective examples of similar state laws. encourages agencies to incorporate systemic environ- mental concerns, such as air quality and watershed Federal Laws effects, into transportation planning. 3. The European literature suggests that other countries Almost every respondent to the project surveys and to are further advanced than the United States in integrat- questions posed during the case study visits credited Inter- ing environmental concerns into transportation systems modal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991 planning. However, this experience has not resulted in (ISTEA) and the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Cen- significantly different approaches to alternatives defi- tury (TEA-21) for making planning more open and sensitive nition, nor to a fundamentally new way of making to broader issues. This section will begin with an overview investment decisions. Europe has, however, made sig- of the environmental sections of TEA-21 and of the regula- nificant advances in monitoring environmental health tions that implemented the ISTEA provisions. Note that and using this information to inform planning and since no planning regulations were promulgated for TEA-21, decision-making. the law itself and those parts of the ISTEA regulations not 4. The United States has made important, yet relatively superseded by TEA-21, were in force since 1991 when targeted, progress in examining environmental and ISTEA was passed. community factors earlier in project development. This TEA-21 and ISTEA linked environmental issues with is most notable in the context-sensitive solutions move- transportation planning in the following ways: ment that has emerged in the past decade in many state and regional transportation agencies. The success of 1. Consolidating 23 planning factors required in ISTEA moving projects forward in a way that results in both for state and metropolitan planning into seven, including meeting safety and mobility objectives while at the one stating the need to "protect and enhance the envi- same time meeting community and environmental ronment, promote energy conservation, and improve group desires for a more sensitive design represents an quality of life"; important evolutionary step forward for transportation 2. Coordinating state planning with "planning needs to be agencies. coordinated with planning conducted by federal, state, 5. Although the concept of linking environmental consid- and local environmental resource planning that sub- erations to transportation systems planning is not new, stantially affects transportation actions"; the relatively recent development of powerful and 3. Promoting public access and input into state trans- accessible computer-based tools and data management portation planning and for influencing key decisions; techniques has greatly increased the capability of doing 4. Coordinating metropolitan transportation planning so. This is particularly true in identifying areas of sen- with the state implementation plan (SIP) in nonattain- sitive environmental resources through the use of geo- ment or maintenance areas; and encouraging the devel- graphic information systems (GIS). opment of transportation control measures;
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23 5. Coordinating NEPA and transportation planning require- each source based on the severity of the pollution. This ments for highway/transit projects among the many legislation also raised automobile emissions standards different agencies involved with the environmental and set a definite timetable for reductions in order to analysis that occurs during project development; tighten control in this area. Along with federal trans- 6. Encouraging environmental streamlining by coordinat- portation legislation, the Clear Air Act established the ing environmental review for highway construction process for conformity assessment that requires trans- projects; portation plans, programs, and projects to conform with 7. Executing a planning program to "plan, develop, and the state implementation plan (SIP) for the state. implement strategies to integrate transportation and · The Endangered Species Act was passed in 1973 and community and system preservation plans and prac- reauthorized in 1988. This legislation regulated a wide tices that, among other things, will reduce the effects of range of activities affecting plants and animals desig- transportation on the environment"; and nated as endangered or threatened. By definition, an 8. Promoting that "to the fullest extent possible, all envi- endangered species is an animal or plant listed by regu- ronmental investigations, reviews, and consultations be lation as being in danger of extinction. A threatened coordinated as a single process, and compliance with all species is any animal or plant that is likely to become applicable environmental requirements be reflected in endangered within the foreseeable future. The Endan- the environmental document required." gered Species Act provided a program for the conserva- tion of threatened and endangered plants and animals These requirements provide an important policy context and the habitats in which they are found. The U.S. Fish for environmentally sensitive transportation planning. and Wildlife Service of the Department of the Interior The number of federal laws and regulations that could maintains a list of endangered and threatened species. · Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 stated that no influence transportation planning is quite extensive. How- person in the United States on the ground of race, color, ever, as noted by the respondents to the surveys, there were or national origin, should be excluded from participa- some federal laws and executive orders (other than ISTEA tion in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to dis- and TEA-21) that have had a more important effect for con- crimination under any program or activity receiving sidering environmental factors in transportation planning federal financial assistance. This law is the foundation than others. These include the following: for the issues relating to environmental justice. · Executive Order 12898 of 1994, Federal Actions to · The National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) of Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations 1969 required federal, state, and local governments to and Low-Income Populations, required each federal use systematic approaches to incorporate the protection agency to make achieving environmental justice part of of the natural and human environment within project its mission by identifying and addressing, as appropri- development. NEPA also established the national com- ate, disproportionately high and adverse health or envi- mitment to preserving the environment as a goal of ronmental effects of its activities on minority and low- national policy. income populations. · The Clean Water Act Amendments (CWA) of 1997 established the basic structure for regulating the dis- Many additional laws and regulations have provided impor- charge of pollutants into waters of the United States. tant access into transportation planning for environmental Section 404 of the Clean Water Act established a pro- issues. A good reference for the federal laws, regulations, gram to regulate the discharge of dredged and fill mate- and guidance that relate to the consideration of environmen- rial into waters of the United States, including wetlands. tal factors in transportation decision-making can be found at Activities that are regulated under this program include www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment. fills for development and infrastructure development such as highways and airports. The basic premise of the State Laws program is that no discharge of dredged or fill material can be permitted if a practicable alternative exists that is States also have enacted laws or adopted policies and regu- less damaging to the aquatic environment or if the lations to promote the consideration of environmental factors nation's waters would be significantly degraded. in transportation planning. The selected state laws presented · The Clean Air Act (CAA) Amendments of 1990 below characterize the nature of the range of state legislation addressed air quality standards, motor vehicle emis- that currently exists in the Untied States. Appendix B, con- sions, and alternative fuels, toxic air pollutants, acid tained in NCHRP Web-Only Document 77, provides a much rain, and stratospheric ozone depletion. The law desig- more detailed description of state laws as they relate to the nated the states as being responsible for nonattainment relationship between transportation and consideration of envi- areas; deadlines for attainment were established for ronmental factors.