Move Colorado GHG Rulemaking Comments

Transmitted Electronically Via: dot_rules@state.co.us.

October 13, 2021

Colorado Transportation Commission
Colorado Department of Transportation
2829 W. Howard Place
Denver, Colorado 80204
Dear Colorado Transportation Commissioners,

Thank you for the opportunity to provide comments regarding the Rules Governing the Statewide
Transportation Planning Process and Transportation Planning Regions (Rules). We applaud the
approach you are utilizing to allow interested parties from across Colorado to engage in the
public process. Additionally, we would like to formally thank Herman Stockinger and Rebecca
White of the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) for the thoughtful presentation
regarding the proposed Rules they provided Move Colorado’s membership in September.

For more than 25 years, Move Colorado – and our 30-plus member organizations representing
planning and engineering consultants, contractors, and transportation interests – have engaged
in transportation policy discussions, with a focus on increasing investment in our state’s multi-
modal transportation system. Our members have expertise as professionals in environmental
analysis, planning, infrastructure design, engineering, and construction. In addition, many of our
member firms also employ scientists and environmental specialists with local, national, and
international expertise and experience in air quality and greenhouse gas (GHG) analyses and
emissions reduction strategies. It is with this expertise that we write to seek additional clarity
related to several proposed Rule provisions, and to assist the Transportation Commission is
establishing an implementable and enforceable program that improves the quality of life of
Colorado residents and reduces ambiguity as these Rules relate to other existing policies and
regulations.

Move Colorado supports the overall goal of taking meaningful steps to reduce GHG emissions
in Colorado, and our comments are focused primarily on the administrative process and
technical aspects of the rulemaking.

Our comments or requests for clarity are not intended to be in conflict with the overall goal.
However, we do seek greater clarification of the proposed changes to the transportation planning
process to ensure the changes help to achieve the intended outcome and proposed to ease
implementation.

Our membership agrees with the proposed process and approach, including the following areas:
• the existence of a waiver process,
• the creation of the State Interagency Consultation Team,
• plans to establish a GHG Mitigation Measure process outside the rulemaking, and
• that the Transportation Commission will not withhold funds from MPOs as a punitive
measure if they do not reach their goals.

The areas in which we seek additional evaluation or clarification are organized by rulemaking
section below. Move Colorado would be willing to expand on these comments, should additional
clarification be requested by the Transportation Commission.

General

We suggest adding clarity around how the Rules works with the National Environmental Policy
Act (NEPA). Federally funded projects require adherence to NEPA to assess environmental
impacts from a proposed action. In addition, CDOT has committed to generally following the
NEPA process and assessing impacts and mitigation for state-funded transportation projects. The
Federal Highway Administration NEPA process has very specific definitions of what constitutes
an “impact” for an environmental resource and requires mitigation for those impacts. The use of
the term “mitigation” throughout the Rules could be misconstrued as it is commonly used in
NEPA documents; clarity around the interplay between the Rules and NEPA process and
definitions should be included to provide clarity and minimize ambiguity during project
development.

Section 1.00 Definitions

Many of the terms used in the preamble and overview are not defined until later in the
document. To provide clarity and improve readability, the definitions should be moved to the
beginning of the document.

• Add a definition for “transportation capacity projects.” We suggest defining a capacity
project as one that physically expands a road, usually by adding through lanes. Projects
that focus on operational (improving traffic flow) or safety improvements, such as
auxiliary lanes, should not be included in this definition.
• 1.12 Disproportionately Impacted Communities: In less populated areas, Census Block
Groups tend to be geographically very large and population centers are not always
located near a project area. Clarification should be added to assess where the population
is located in relation to a proposed project.
• 1.35: National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS): “Small particles” is not the correct
terminology for particulate matter. This should be changed to reflect the exact wording
of the criteria pollutants.
• 1.36: Nonattainment Area: Clarification should be added that a nonattainment area is
where the NAAQS are being exceeded; not solely where NAAQS exist.
• 1.42 Regionally Significant Project: The definition included in the Rules is the definition
provided by the Environmental Protection Agency, which is meant to provide a general
definition for all states. We suggest modifying the definition to rely on what the MPOs
currently include in their models as “regionally significant”.
• 1.59 Transportation Systems Planning: It is unclear what this planning process is—if it is
referencing CDOT’s 10-year plan and related process, it should be stated as such since the
definition could also include what is identified during the NEPA process.

Section 8.01 GHG Emission Requirements

• We request clarity on whether establishing a future year GHG emission target was
considered rather than setting a baseline and reduction. Setting future GHG emission
targets would be more directly comparable to the modeled emissions.
• Table 1: GHG Transportation Planning Reduction Levels in MMT of CO2e—additional
clarification is requested regarding whether the baseline values listed for each MPO are
consistent with the MPOs’ own methods and calculations. If the methods and calculations
are not compatible, it could lead to two discrete calculation processes: one that is
compliant with the Clean Air Act and one that is compliant with the Rules.
• Table 1: The “total” in each column should each the sum of all cells in the column. The
rounding in the “total” row does not match the sum in some columns.

Section 8.02 Process for Determining Compliance

• 8.02.1: Similar to the comment on Table 1, i.e., whether data from the different agencies
will be directly comparable, is there a plan in place in case the baseline CO2e values differ?
If the MPO’s calculated value is under the Table 1 baseline value, would that difference
count toward GHG reduction?
• 8.02.3: Please provide clarity on how GHGs impacts to Disproportionally Impacted
Communities will be assessed. Similar to ozone, GHGs are usually examined on a larger
scale and not on a smaller scale, like a neighborhood or specific project study area.
8.03: GHG Mitigation Measures
We understand that the list of GHG mitigation measures is not exhaustive; however, many of
these appear to be actions neither CDOT nor MPOs will have the authority to mandate. We
request clarity on how CDOT and the MPOs will utilize these measures.
In addition, we request clarity on how GHG emission reduction estimates will be calculated. It
will be nearly impossible to generate defensible GHG emission reduction estimates for the
mitigation measures listed in paragraph 8.03.

8.05: Enforcement

The Rules refer to projects or mitigation measures that reduce GHG emissions; however, no
guidance is provided on how to evaluate these reductions. We request clarity on how GHG
reductions will be assessed for individual projects.

• 8.05.2.1.2: Waiver denial mentions a “substantial” increase in GHGs. Please provide a
definition of “substantial” to remove any ambiguity.

Move Colorado thanks you for the opportunity to share our feedback regarding the Rules.
While we agree that time is of the essence in addressing GHG and its impact, we strongly
urge you to amend the rulemaking process to allow for a second round of public review
following any amendments made by CDOT in response to feedback gathered through this
initial public outreach process. We believe the additional review will help bring greater
confidence and transparency to the process and increase acceptance for the revised
Rule. Additionally, if of interest, we sincerely offer the expertise of our members with
backgrounds in environmental science and air quality analysis, should that be of benefit.

If you have questions or would like additional details, please do not hesitate to contact
Tamra Ward, Move Colorado’s Executive Director, at tamra.ward@movecolorado.org.

Warm Regards,
Tamra J. Ward
Executive Director