New Ozone Standards Could Mean Change for Upstate New York

At the tail end of New York City’s hottest summer on record, the federal Environmental Protection Agency delayed a decision on proposed stricter national standards for ozone that was expected at the end of August. There has been plenty of political heat over the proposed standard, which has the potential to put much of New York State in “non-attainment” (failing EPA standards), forcing agencies to find new ways to clean the air.

What Non-Attainment Means for Transportation

States must improve air quality in non-attainment regions by developing plans to tackle major pollution sources, including transportation. Being in non-attainment is hardly a transformative event. For example, all of New Jersey and Connecticut is in non-attainment for ozone, but that has not stopped huge road projects like the NJ Turnpike widening or Q Bridge expansion from moving forward.

But it can have significant effects. The NY State Department of Environmental Conservation’s “state implementation plan” caps parking in Manhattan’s central business district and was cited in a recent lawsuit which reduced parking in NYC’s planned Hudson Yards district. Regions in non-attainment also get funds from the federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality program (CMAQ), a large program typically used for transit, bike and pedestrian, and demand management projects.