Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO commented on the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) draft memorandum of its legal conclusions supporting the liberal use of the highway funding sanction in the Clean Air Act to promote cooperation with its enforcement efforts for post-deadline attainments of national ambient air quality standards. The act states that no projects or grants shall be approved other than for safety, mass transit, or transportation improvement projects related to air quality improvement or maintenance in any air quality control region in which any national primary ambient air quality standard has not been attained or where state implementation plan (SIP) revisions are not being made. The memorandum states that the highway fund sanction is currently available to induce compliance with the additional round of SIP revisions EPA requested in lieu of enforcing sanctions against nonattainable areas and that the sanctions can be used to punish states that revoke parts of their SIP revisions after EPA has approved them. GAO found that the proposal to invoke highway fund sanctions to promote cooperation with EPA SIP revisions and to penalize nonimplementation was not authorized in the statute. GAO suggested that EPA use a construction moratorium, federal promulgation of SIP's, and Clean Air Act grant sanctions to achieve the post-deadline attainments.
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