Congress, in Passing the Noise Control Act of 1972, Wanted FAA to Develop Enforceable Standards and Airports to Develop Programs to Protect the Public Health and Welfare

The debates and legislative history of the Noise Control Act of 1972 evidence a desire on the part of Congress to set noise standards in the “airport environment” which must be met “in order to protect the public health and welfare.”

For airports which exceed the target levels, a plan must be developed and submitted by the airport operator which could include controls on the frequency of flights, the hours of airport operation, changes in operational and flight procedures, land use, and other techniques . . .

Senate Debate on S. 3342, October 12, 1972. This system of a locally-produced but federally-enforced plans to meet a federal standard is well-known in the environmental community. Under the Clean Air Act, they are called “State Implementation Plans.” A state develops a SIP, submits it to the EPA for approval, and once approved by the EPA the SIP can be enforced either by the EPA or the state environmental agency. This was the intent of Congress in passing the Noise Control Act of 1972.  In the same debate, Sen. Edmund Muskie (D-ME), stated:

What we propose to do here is to do nothing more than we did in the Clean Air Act of 1970 or the Water Pollution Act of [1972]. We propose to set targets and to set standards which will force industry and the technological community to build the hardware necessary to deal with this problem and in the meantime permit the communities – and the FAA has a veto in the field – to take pragmatic approaches to the problem which will enable them to make at least a beginning toward reducing the noise around airports.

Id. It seems that we should honor the intent of Congress in passing the Noise Control Act of 1972 and have the FAA develop the enforceable standards and have the airports develop programs necessary to protect the public health and welfare from the deleterious effects of aviation noise.

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