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OVERSIGHT HEARING ON NOISE CONTROL ACT
FRIDAY, MARCH 30, 1973
COMMITTEE ON COMMERCE,
Los Angeles, Calif.
The subcommittee met, pursuant to notice, at 9 a.m., in community center room, city of Inglewood Community Hall, Inglewood, Calif., Hon. Howard W. Cannon, [chairman of the subcommittee] presiding.
OPENING STATEMENT BY SENATOR CANNON
Senator CANNON. The hearing will come to order.
Today's hearing of the Subcommittee on Aviation of the Senate Commerce Committee is being held to enable us to be brought up to date on the aircraft noise problem and government and industry efforts to deal with it.
It is appropriate that our hearing is being held here in Inglewood, Calif., as this community, like many others in the Nation which adjoin major jet ports, is seriously impacted by unwanted noise from jet aircraft.
Indeed, the Los Angeles area, as I'm told by my distinguished Senate colleague from California, probably faces as serious an aircraft noise problem as anywhere in the United States. Senator Tunney has been deeply concerned about this situation and has worked diligently in the U.S. Congress to provide a more effective program to control all types of unwanted and unnecessary noise from whatever source. In fact, my colleague was the author of the Noise Control Act of 1972, landmark legislation which provides the Government with broad new powers to deal with the noise problem. Senator Tunney's efforts should be applauded by all Americans whose health and welfare is jeopardized by unwarranted and unnecessary intrusions from noise.
As a result of passage of the 1972 law, the Environmental Protection Agency was given new authority to play a major role in the development of programs and standards to protect the public from aircraft noise. Presently, EPA and the FAA share this authority, with the EPA playing the role of initiator of new programs and alternatives.
It is our intention, in this hearing, to be brought up to date on recent actions by both Federal agencies and actions which are contemplated in the near future. We also wish to assess the progress being Staff member assigned to this hearing: Robert Ginther.
made by EPA in the preparation of a comprehensive report to Congress, due later this year, on recommendations of how to further deal with the aircraft noise problem.
In addition, we plan to hear from State and local governmental officials here in California to learn what other governmental activities and resources are being brought to bear on the problem and to learn from affected citizens if progress is being made in the control of aircraft noise in the Los Angeles Basin. We have also asked representatives of industry to present testimony regarding industry's efforts to provide better answers for the control of aircraft noise.
In all, we hope the hearing will give us a comprehensive picture of the present situation, particularly here in southern California, so we will be better able to determine if further action on the part of Congress or the Administration is called for and, if so, what action is appropriate.
I would like to express my personal thanks to Senator Tunney whose active interest and participation in this hearing has been of great assistance to the committee and to tell him that, as a close neighbor to the east, it's nice to be in California.
OPENING STATEMENT BY SENATOR TUNNEY
Senator TUNNEY. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
Today is the first day of Senate hearings to oversee the implementation of the Noise Control Act of 1972-The first comprehensive Federal regulatory program to control effects of unwanted sounds, effects which are only too well known to this community.
I am delighted and personally very grateful to the distinguished chairman of the Senate Aviation Subcommittee, Senator Cannon, for agreeing to hold the hearings in the vicinity of one of the noisiest, busiest, and best-run major airports in the country: The Los Angeles International Airport.
I know how difficult it is for a Senator to hold hearings, not to mention chairing hearings, outside of his own State and outside of Washington and I am very very appreciative to Senator Cannon for taking the time and making the effort to be with us this morning.
The hearing is appropriately located in the city of Inglewood, which has set an outstanding example of what a local community can do to control noise pollution. The city ordinances and resolutions which you have passed, the thousands of letters you have sent to me, and the most helpful studies conducted by your Environmental Director, Randall Hurlburt, were invaluable to me in the long months last year during which time we held hearings, committee sessions, and debated with interested groups about the need for and the content of Federal legislation on noise.
Let me add, too, that my interest in noise pollution began in this community. In 1970, when I was running for the Senate, I paid a visit to some local residents who had purchased their homes before the fourth runway was built at LAX. After the runway was built, these older homes became contiguous to the airport-and directly under the flightpath. The noise was intolerable, and most of the resi
dents I saw wanted to sell. As you can imagine, no buyers were in sight-although the airport did indicate that, some time in the future when funds were available, it would purchase the dwellings.
Imagine the nightmare! One of the most poignant pictures that remains vividly in my mind is that of an infant with cotton in his ears. His parents who live adjacent to the airport, told me that they had put the cotton there the day the child was brought home from the maternity ward. They said that they planned to keep it there in order to avoid damaging their child's hearing. Examples like that dramatically brought home to me the need to take action to reduce unwanted and dangerous noise.
As most of you know, the version of the Noise Control Act which passed the Senate last October contained most of the elements of the bill which I had introduced last March with Senator Edmund S. Muskie. The most controversial sections of the legislation concerned aircraft and airport noise. These sections underwent numerous changes as the legislation evolved and it is the final compromise (which, I will admit, was not everthing I wanted) that will be the subject of discussion at these hearings.
While I believe that the mandate in the final version of the legislation is sufficiently broad to do the job needed, I would like to give you some background on what we had before the legislation, what we initially proposed, and what we have now. This perspective should help us all to judge better whether the witnesses who will testify today from the Environmental Protection Agency and the Federal Aviation Administration are doing what is needed to carry out the intent of the law.
Since 1958, the FAA has had statutory authority to "prescribe air traffic rules and regulations governing the flight of aircraft* * *For the protection of persons and property on the ground***" (The FAA Act of 1958, 40 U.S.C. Section 1348 (c).) Moreover, in 1968, Congress amended the FAA Act to create a new section 611, under which the FAA Administrator was explicity directed to "prescribe and amend such rules and regulations as he may find necessary to provide for the control and abatement of aircraft noise and sonic boom***" (49 U.S.C. section 1431 (A.).) Nonetheless, regulations issued by the FAA since 1968 have applied only to new types of aircraft certificated after December 1969, and therefore have exempted such aircraft as B-707s, 727s, 737s, and DC-8s. Aircraft not covered contain the noisy JT-3D and JT-8D engines, and comprise over 90 percent of the current commercial fleet. According to projections of the Air Transport Association, most of these aircraft will still be flying in 1980!
With these statistics in mind, the Senate legislation introduced last March was premised on the notion that the FAA had forfeited its claim to a lead role in curbing aircraft and airport noise, and that primary responsibility for prescribing controls should be shifted to the Environmental Protection Agency, the Agency with a long-standing mandate to protect the environment.
As initially introduced, the Senate bill would have given total authority to EPA. As subsequently refined (and, to my mind, improved), the legislation provided that EPA would prescribe aircraft
emission regulations, subject to a twofold FAA veto on grounds of safety and technological availability. Thus, we proposed to make good use of FAA's traditional expertise: To assure that aircraft regulations are consistent with the highest degree of safety, and to develop and utilize the best available technology in order to promote air commerce.
Another section of an early draft of the legislation required that EPA identify noise-impacted airports, and hold a public hearing at the airport to debate a plan developed by the airport operator to reduce noise. EPA and FAA would then review the plan in order that public health, as well as safety of passengers and needs of air commerce would be protected.
As it passed the Senate, the legislation contained the regulatory provision on aircraft emissions which I have just described. Because we could not adequately perfect the process involved in reviewing the airport operator's plan to reduce airport noise, we agreed that EPA should study the issue for a year.
Further compromises were necessary in order to get the House of Representatives' agreement to a final version of the bill which would be sent to the President for approval. The final version of the aircraft section of the bill provides for a four-part study by EPA which is to be submitted to the Congress this July. The items to be studied are these:
First, the adequacy of FAA flight and operational noise controls. Second, the adequacy of noise emission standards on new and existing aircraft, together with recommendations on the retrofitting and phase-out of existing aircraft.
Third, the implications of identifying noise contours around airports and then reducing airport noise.
Fourth, additional measures available to airport operators and local governments to control aircraft noise.
Based on the study, EPA is to submit proposed regulations to the FAA upon which the FAA must take action. Within 30 days after it receives the recommendations, the FAA must publish them in a notice of proposed rulemaking. Public hearings must be held within 60 days, and within a reasonable time thereafter, the FAA must decide to accept, modify or reject the proposals. A decision to modify or reject must contain substantive reasons, and EPA can compel review if not satisfied. Judicial review is also available to any interested person.
Significantly, too, the legislation re-enacts section 611 of the FAA Act-which, as I mentioned earlier, specifically instructs the FAA to control and abate aircraft noise. The re-enactment of the section amends the FAA's mandate so that regulations shall be promulgated "in order to afford present and future relief and protection to the public health and welfare***" According to the legislative history, this change was intended to stress that the "key element" is the protection of the public health and welfare and not the protection of commerce. (118 Cong. Rec. S. 18644 (Daily Ed. Oct. 18, 1972).) I have always characterized our tasks as one of balancing what I have referred to as three sometimes competing social "goods": the protection of the public health and welfare, the protection of the high