General Conformity Training Module 2.4: Review Process
- Module II:
- 2.1 Applicability
- 2.2 Emissions
- 2.3 Demonstrating
- 2.4 Review
- 2.5 Proactive Role for
Federal agencies are public bodies and conformity determination is an open process. The General Conformity Regulations require that the federal agencies provide copies of the draft demonstration to EPA and other affected federal agencies, states, tribe, local agencies and local MPOs and allow them a minimum of 30 days to comment on the draft demonstration. In addition, the federal agency must provide the public an opportunity to comment on the draft demonstration.
The EPA’s Regional Office responsible for the affected nonattainment or maintenance area(s) generally handles the review of the draft demonstration. The list of EPA’s Regional Offices is available on the General Conformity website under "Contact Us." If the action would affect three or more EPA Regions, then the federal agency can coordinate the review through EPA’s Office of Air Quality Planning and Standards.
The state, tribal or local agency review of the draft demonstration is generally handled by the organization responsible for the implementation of the SIP in the nonattainment or maintenance area. The MPO’s review of the draft demonstration is generally handled by the transportation organization for the area. The specific contact can be obtained by contacting the state or local air quality agency. EPA’s Regional Offices can also provide assistance in locating the appropriate contact.
The revised General Conformity Regulations have included provisions to allow tribes in affected nonattainment and maintenance areas to review and comment on the draft demonstration.
In addition to the above organizations, the federal agency must provide copies of the draft demonstration to the federal agency or federal official charged with the direct responsibility of designated Class I areas (i.e., national parks and wildernesses) within 100 km of the action and allow them a minimum of 30 days to comment on the draft demonstration. EPA Regional Offices can provide information on the location of the Class I areas and the responsible agency.
The federal agency must notify the public of the draft demonstration by placing a notice in a daily newspaper of general circulation in the area affected by the action. The federal agency must make the draft demonstration available for review and allow a minimum of 30 days for the public to comment. In many cases, federal agencies coordinate the public review process for the General Conformity demonstration with the public review required under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).
Nothing in the General Conformity Regulations requires or authorizes the release of confidential business information or classified materials or information to any unauthorized person or organization. Actions involving such information or materials should be coordinated with the EPA Regional Office or EPA’s Office of Air Quality Planning and Standards.
Within 30 days of making its final determination, the federal agency must notify the reviewer and the public of the determination. The notice is to be made in the same manner as used to notify the reviewers and public of the draft demonstration.
Since a conformity determination is a final action by an agency, it may be subject to judicial review. Federal agencies should document their evaluations to ensure that their decision can withstand a judicial challenge.