September 20, 2017. Frustrated with federal inaction on growing problems of environmental noise, Quiet Communities today filed a petition with the Administrator of the US Environmental Protection Agency to fulfill the mandates of the Noise Control Act of 1972 and the Quiet Communities Act of 1978. The petition, prepared by the University of Washington’s Regulatory Environmental Law & Policy Clinic, was submitted with the support of The Quiet Coalition and the American Tinnitus Association.
Current noise statutes call upon the government to sponsor research, educate the public, and adopt regulations to control levels of environmental noise. These mandates have been unfunded and neglected for decades; the Office of Noise Abatement and Control was dismantled during the Reagan era. As Congress recognized over four decades ago, noise presents a serious public health hazard. In the absence of regulation and enforcement, the problem has gotten worse each year.
The EPA is required to act to protect the public health from harms due to environmental noise, regardless of the current regulatory climate in Washington,” states Legal Advisory Council co-chair, Richard Reibstein. He and co-chair Jeanne Kempthorne cite three factors motivating the petition. First, noise-induced hearing loss and stress-mediated health problems linked to noisy environments are getting worse. Second, the fact that the statutes remain on the books, unenforced, leaves state and local governments with reduced capacity to address noise themselves. Finally, filing a petition is the first step in making sure agencies like the EPA implement and enforce our laws as they are required to do. A court may not be able to order an agency to do its job if it has not first been asked.
Quiet Communities is inviting leaders in public and occupational health and advocates for a quieter, cleaner, healthier world to sign on to the petition.
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