August 24, 2018

Senators Schumer and Gillibrand Introduce Legislation To Require The EPA To Reestablish Office Of Noise Abatement And Control To Address Noise Pollution From Aircraft Noise

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer and U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today announced the Quiet Communities Act, legislation that would require the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to reestablish an Office of Noise Abatement and Control and reauthorize the Office's activities through fiscal year 2023. This legislation would empower the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to oversee airplane noise issues across the country, including airplane noise-plagued areas near JFK and LaGuardia airports. Currently, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) oversees airplane noise issues, however, Schumer and Gillibrand explained that the EPA is better fit to address these matters, as its main focus is to protect human health and the environment.

“Empowering the same agency tasked with protecting our environment to protect our communities from excessive and burdensome aircraft noise while working alongside the FAA makes eminent sense. This legislation will once again set up an Office of Noise Abatement and Control at the EPA so that environmental experts can address airplane noise, continuing to allow science to help lead the way in both studying and crafting workable solutions,” said Senator Schumer.  

“Our communities should not have to endure excessive airplane noise that strongly impacts their quality of life, and this legislation will provide additional tools to assist communities by reestablishing an EPA Office of Noise Abatement & Control,” said Senator Gillibrand, a member of the Environment and Public Works Committee. “The federal government must take more proactive steps to address the concerns of New Yorkers who are affected by airplane noise, and this bill will give the EPA the ability to act.”

Due to budget cuts in 1981, the EPA’s Office of Noise Abatement and Control was dismantled and the FAA was given oversight into all matters regarding aircraft noise pollution. Schumer and Gillibrand’s Quiet Communities Act would restore the EPA’s Office of Noise Abatement and Control. Moreover, the legislation would require the EPA Administrator to conduct a study of airport noise and examine the FAA’s selection of noise measurement methodologies, health impact thresholds, and abatement program effectiveness.

The responsibilities of the Office of Noise Abatement and Control must include:

(1) Promoting the development of effective state and local noise control programs.

(2) Running a national noise control research program.

(3) Running a national noise environmental assessment program.

(4) Establishing regional technical assistance centers to assist state and local noise control programs.

(5) Assessing the effectiveness of the Noise Control Act of 1972.

(6) Conducting related outreach and educational activities. The office must emphasize noise abatement approaches that rely on local and state activities, market incentives, and coordination with other agencies.

(7) Using funds made available to the office, the EPA must carry out a study of airport noise.

The legislation amends the Noise Control Act of 1972 to expand the quiet communities grant program to include grants for establishing and implementing training programs on use of noise abatement equipment and implementing noise abatement plans.