The National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board, in charge of approving plans to build and operate roads and transit systems in the region, has released a plan to bring metropolitan Washington area into compliance with federal air quality standards.
The board is seeking public comment on a series of Transportation Emissions Reduction Measures that include steps such as the early retirement of diesel truck engines, the replacement of existing taxicabs with vehicles fueled by compressed natural gas and an expanded regional telecommuting program.
The board has requested that the Metropolitan Washington Air Quality Committee draft an amendment to the regional air quality plan for approval by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. That amendment would propose increasing the amount of oxides of nitrogen (NOx) allowed in the region by acknowledging the progress made in reducing volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
The board believes rising levels of NOx emissions are being caused by growth in the number of sport utility vehicles in the region. If it does not get relief from NOx emission level mandates, it said, then by current law, the region will not be able to add new highway or transit projects to its next transportation plan.