DOC18BUI RItUPR 04012 - B31114373] [Progress lade by Federal Agencies in Isplementiag the loise Control Act of 1972 ].-_fZ_78-; 8-166506. Nowveobe 7, 1977. Released November 9, 1S77. 2 pp. + enclosure 46 pp.). Report to Rep. FLed. B. Roone%, Chairsan, House Cosmittee on Interstate and Foreign Conmexcs Trw.asportation and CGirjce subcomnittee; by Robert P. Keller Acting Coaptzroll General. Issue Area: Bnvironmental Protection Prograas: Iffectivenoss of Regulatory S+rat+.gies (2208). Contact: Coosuaity -ud Economic Develcpmenat Div- Budget Function: Natural Revources Isnviroanent, ar4 ergIs Pollution Control and Abatesent (3 4V.. Organization Concerned: D*partment of ITr? gottations Environesatal P.otec ion Agency; Pefral Aviation Adainaisration. Congressional Relevancest ouse cosaittee oaw xstestteWA Foreign Commerce: Transportationa aa Caoen " u-cou ettee Authority: (oise Control Act of 1972 (42 U.S.C. *0I01 There has been progqess in tBh .rcal, o1Veo fntfs noiae abatemcnt program since Aisil 1977. be mst Aispotant actioa caken since then wea the isea*e by saa -t-: Protection Agency (EPA) of a strategy docsenwt for t A;' ,oise cuntrol progrqa. ThiJ document is a first - Lgt4 the development of a unified, national effort to reece Aisce pollution. The comments on the stzategy teceived ftoa othe Govrnment agencies, State and local governsents, private indLetry, and the public Oere t- , generally in agesea itk the issues discussed in the strategy. Iin ingi/Coiclamiolmt Although nuasrous regulatory measures are available tc control noise, zany of then have not been utilised to their full potential, ircluding technical assistance to State and local governments, coordination of the numerces fedeoal progr'- concerning noise control, and the labeling of anoisy j.odut&. The progress made in the coordination of Federal research and in development of labelina regulations has been significant. a major reorganl-ation plan announced by the Secretary of Transportatioii vill, when isplns~A-V- eliminate the Office of Noise Abateseat within the Office of t'e SeEretazr and transfer noise control aclvities to the various operating administrations. It is too soon to detastiae what effect this reorganization will have on noise abasteent activities in the overall transportation area. There are still significant differences beteen EPA and the Federal Aviation Adkiaistration with regard to aviation noise control shich wiAi continue vutil Congress clarifies its intent nder the Noise Control Act. (SC) V-1Gb 54t; OV 7 by ;: i. WAN O.C. Va The Honoroblc Fred IB.Rooney ChaIragn, 5ubcommi. tee on Trnnarportbti~cn :4nd Comrerce Conmmittee on Inters.ate and foreiqn Com,,tt'rce Housa of nleprotentatives Dear Mr, Chairnant Yo-j requentta in your April 28, 1377, continue to monit-r t;e p:ogress letter that we made by thi? Federal agencies in iwtme'ntcIng9 t,.e , oit e Control Act oL 1972, and provide you wfth quarterly reports. You also requested the two aajor aqgenJeu tnvolve 4-- the Department of Trenbportation and tV.i Lnvironmkntal Protecticn Ao-r.cy--to quartftly ripLots on their progre*s. provide you with Tho Envi r:ntnmerntal PkteLcqion Agercy r¢p'irt to you on July 8, 197/. The (EPA) sent its first (DOwT! snt tt. ruvrrt on September 16, Department of TransportatLon byt your office, our report was delayed 1977. As requested report5 could he nnalyzed by us. until the agencies' tn gnoeraJ, there has been progress Governmtnt-'s roite %batement program in the Federal your Subhemmittee in April 1977. That since the hearings before does that the proqra.il 1i yet run ing effectively. not mean, however, previoun prcoblem have been elleviated, Some of the of a notlue .tra'eqy, while others, such as the issuance between EPA and DOT on aircraft noise like the disagreement continues. A new problen concernini railioad noine has emerged aourt .nrtlon and future problemns could as a result of recent ab-.lftihon itm c:ntral noise abatement be in the worts as DOT funding cuta In itn noise progiLd. office and EPA faces Details on these matters are copntrined In the enclosure to this letter. We mot with DOT and EPA officials and c'%me.itt to the extent appropriate have- recognized their in finalizing our repcrt. CEL-78-5 (087500) As arranged with your office, we will make this reoort avsilabl-e to the Department of Transportation and the Environ-entel Protection Agency two days after the issue'ate sincerely yours, Al TI:;N Comptrolle, Geneal of the United StAte'; Enclosure ENCLOSURL ENCLOSURE FI:RT PROGRESS REPORT ON IMPLEMENT.TION Cr THE NOISE CONTROL ACT OF 1976 The object!ver of the Noise Control Act of 1972 (42 U.S.C. 4901)--the first comprehensive noise control legislation passed ty Congress--are to "promote an environment for.all Americans free from noise that jeopardizes their health or . ifare" and "to establish a means for effective coordination of Federal research and activities in noise control." The act directs the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to coordinate all Federal programs ol. noise research and control, Identify and promulgate standards for.major sources of noise, submit regulatory proposals to the -Oderal Aviation Aoministcation (FAA) for control of aircraft/ airport noise, label noisy products, conduct and finance research on the effects of noise, and propose regulations limiting the ioise generated from interstate rail and motor carriers. In our report to the Congress dated March 7, 1977, (CED-77-42) titleSd Noise Pollu'tion--Federal Program to Control It Has Been Slow and Ineffective," we stated that although some progres&-has been made in fulfilling the require- :ments of the Noise Act, implementation of .a.ay of the provisions has been slow and, i.1 some cases, ineffective. Scme of the problemr discussed in our report and in testirmony before the House Interstate and Foreign Commerce's Subcommittee on Transpjortation and Commerce on April 19, 1977, as well as the 'souse Government Oneration'3 Subcommittee on Environment, Energy, and Natural Resources on April 4, 1977, were as followst --Onlyv four noise emission standards had been issued and these were from one to two years late. --EPA had submitted 11 proposals to the FAA vo- control of aircraft/airport noise, but little procrels had been made in issuing these regulations. --While EPA recognized early in 1974 that a strategy for a comprehensive nuyse prouram was needed, a fi;al version of s,,ch a strategy had not been pub2ished. --Little progress had been achieved in labeling noisy products. --The total noise research program of the Government had decreased since the act was passed. --EPA had failed to effectively coordinate Federal nolse research activities. ENCLOSURE ENCLTOSURE --EPA had not adequately assessed the status of Federal noise research as required by the act. As a result nf tho hearings held by the House Interstate ana Foreign Commerce's Subcommittee on Transoortation and Commnerce, the Subcoumvittee Chairman requested ur to :ontinue nronito;:ng the progress made by EPA and the other Federal agencies resoonsible for implementing the Federal Govern:ie.t's noine program. RECENT PfPOGRE5iS There has been progiess in the Fedetal Government's noi-e abatement program since April 1977. Much of the prcgress has been previously reported to the Subcommittee by the Department of Transportation (nOT) and EPA in thtir status reports. Rather than discuss or reiterate the information provided in the two agencies' first reports, we wil. address only the most significant actions or areas which .,e feel need impFrove- ment or would be of concern to the Subco-.tittee. In our opi:nion, the most. it.-,rtant action taken since Apr il '- /7, was the idsuarnce' by '-A. of a strategy document for the Fe<,eral noise control profgam. This is essential if the intent of the Congre-ss under tne Noise Control Act is to be c... ;ieteil. The strategy document, approved by the EPA A:-.:i.istrator cn May 26, 1977, is a good first step in the devioprment of a unified, national effort to redce roise pollution. The comments on the strategy received from other government agenties, State and local governments, priv-'.e industry, a-id the public vete generally in agreement with the issues discussed in the strategy. As -rated in the strategy document prepared by EPA, numerou= regulatory measures are available to control noise, but many of them have not yet been utilized to their fuli potential. %reas not previously utilized but which are given priority in the strategy document are technical assistance to State and local qoverinm-nts, coordination of the nume'cus Federal oroatars concerning noise control, and the labeling o:. nois:, prc(ducts. Tne progress made in trw of the major areas--coordination .of Federal research and development of labeling regulations-- has been significant. --The four research panels establish:ei by EPA to coordinate Feaeral research efforts, which were previously inactive 2 kNCLOSURE ENCLOSURE for almost two years, have been meeting on . regular basis and one of their major pro'ects is to assess taje noire research done ro date by the Fceral Government. This assessment cf the effectiveness of the Federal Government's noi.e research efforts was required by the act. The EPA assesrment report submitted to Congress in June 1975 was not adequate. ~In our March 1977 report we concluded that the assessment of research is necessary to make sure tne accomplish- ments and areas needing improvement in the Federal effort are known. EPA officials told us the research panels will meet in November and December of this vear to firalize plans for the publication of a revised assessment of the Federal noise research effort. --On June 22. 1977, ZPA proposed its first labeling :tgulation-in the Federal Register. This proposal covered hearing protectors. Also, the general provisions for product lab'eiing were published on the saine date. Public meetings were held on these general provisions in three cities: Washington, D.C.; Cedar Rapids, Iowa; and Szn Francisco, California. According to an EPA official the general feeling of the p-blic and State and local governments towards the labeling program was favorable. No additional proposed regu.ations have been published, however, EPA plans to propose labeling regulations for other products in 1978. DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPOPTATION REORGANIZATION On July 20, 1977, the QOT Secretary announced a major reorganization plan which when implemented will eliminate the Office of Noise Abatement within the Office of the Secretary, D&c. *The missions and functions of this office will be transferred to the varipus operating Administrations within DOT (e.g. airc'aft noise activities of the Sec retary's Office of Noise Abatement will be transferred to the FAA). The DOT Stcretary stated that the various operating administra tions have develope9 the capability to administer the noise control activities of their respective areas of expertise. It is too soon to determine what effect, if any, this reorqaniza- tion will have on noise abatement activities in the overall t: :nsportation area. LEGdSLATI!VE CHACi"ES RECOMMENDE:D NOT YET DEVELOPED , In cur report to the Congress 9n March 7, 1977, we recommended that the Noise Control Act of 1972 be amended tol 3 i SNC!rOSUAE ENCLOSURE "CLange the penalty for violating the interstate motor carrier regulation from a criminal to a civil penalty. Require FAA to publish a notice in the Federal Register, within a specified time, as to whether the ioise atatement proposals sutmitted by EPA will be accepted, odi lied, or rpjected. If the proporaln e to be modified or rejected, the reasons for iu actions should also be stated." To date, neither of these two legislative recommendiations have been introduced as amendments. PRO3Lr,:'-7c ETWEEN EPA AND D(OT In the EPA response to our report to the Congress EPA stated: "...it would be appropriate for the Congress to explore the basic philosophict' approaches of the two agencies (FA.. and EPA) and to contrast the performance in the aviation area to the performance in other noise control areas set forth by the Act. In EPA'S view the FAA's .egulations uncder Section 7 of the Act require- only 'current practice,' while the EFA's regulations under Section 6 require ;best available technology.' Since the specitic criteria for establishing standards differ in the twe Sections of the Act, perhaps the outcomes should also be different, but fundamental policy questiols divide the two agencies and they will continue to delay progress in the aviation noise area until Congress clarifies its intent." Based on our analysis of developments since that time, it ippe~,rs to us that Lh"re are still significant differences Detween EVA and FAA and that the diffe.erce will continue until Congress clarifies its intent ur;der the Noise Control Act of 1972. As stated in our March 1977 report to the Congress, the Association of American Railroads had filed suit in the U.S. Court of ApDeals for the District of Columbia Circuit requesting a judicial review of the interstate railroad regulation promulgated by EPA. The Association's petition requested the review because it did not feel the regulation adequately provided for national uniform treatment of the railroad industry. On Aucust 2j, 1977, the Court ruled that EPA Hmisinter- preted the clear statutory mandate (Section 17 of the Noise 4 ENe.LOSURE' E£NCLOSURE Act) to regulate the equipment and facilities of interstate rail carriers" and ordered EPA to revise tU·e regulation by August 23, 1978. Although tl.o Court ruled that the present regulation Wilt remain in effect, the new regulation which is to be derelo.e.d must contain a broader definition of railroad equipment and facili.t.es. The Court believes the definition of equipment and facilities used by EPA in the existing regulation was too narrow and therefore failed to meet the intent of Section 17 of -he act. The Court also stated that three Federal agencies with expertise in the railroad area--Depart-mnts of Commerce, Transportation, and the Interstate Commerce Commission--alsc disagreed with EPA's decision not to regulate all equipment and facilities. COURDINATION Although the coordination aspects of the act appear to be improving with the continuing activity of the inter- agency research panels, a recent incident indicates that problems may still exist. Since DOT and the National Aeronautics and Space Administrati~,: (NASA) had performed various tests on the Concordc sitpersonic aircraft, several Congressmen, on Auqust 4, 1977, requested UOT and NASA to assist in the development of a iow-frequency vibration index for the Concorde. The Congressmen asked GAO to monitor these efforts. Since DOT and NASA are members with EPA on two of the interagency research panels, it would appear appropriate for them tQ have contacted EPA for their opinicn, since EPA had previously taken the position that additional low- frequency efforts were needed. However, EPA was not mnade aware of this activity until notified by GAO. Subsequently, EPA was included in this effort. This appears to be another indication of communication problems between the Federal agencies involved in noise control. FUNDING We understand that the EPA noise control program reso.c( may be reduced substantially in fiscal year 1979. The agency budget request, which wis developed under a zero-bas.d budgeting process, was recently subn;itted to the Office of Management and Budget. -Althougn EPA officials would not confirm the extent of any expected cuts, tdis reduction has been widely reported in various noise trade journals. ENC'LOSURE ENCOSURE Since the nPA program is relzitirely small, any cutbacks could hamper its effectiveness, ari since progress is currently be-ng made, it arpears to us that a cutback at this would De detrimental to the Federal noise control time effort.
Progress Made by Federal Agencies in Implementing the Noise Control Act of 1972
Published by the Government Accountability Office on 1977-11-07.
Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)