Noise Control Act of 1972 (as amended)



UNITED STATES CODE
Title 42 -- The Public Health and Welfare
Chapter 65 -- Noise Control

Current as of Feb. 8, 1998



§ 4901. Congressional findings and statement of policy

(a) The Congress finds --

(1) that inadequately controlled noise presents a growing danger to the health and welfare of the Nation's population, particularly in urban areas;

(2) that the major sources of noise include transportation vehicles and equipment, machinery, appliances, and other products in commerce; and

(3) that, while primary responsibility for control of noise rests with State and local governments, Federal action is essential to deal with major noise sources in commerce control of which require national uniformity of treatment.

(b) The Congress declares that it is the policy of the United States to promote an environment for all Americans free from noise that jeopardizes their health or welfare. To that end, it is the purpose of this chapter to establish a means for effective coordination of Federal research and activities in noise control, to authorize the establishment of Federal noise emission standards for products distributed in commerce, and to provide information to the public respecting the noise emission and noise reduction characteristics of such products.

§ 4902. Definitions

For purposes of this chapter:

(1) The term "Administrator" means the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency.

(2) The term "person" means an individual, corporation, partnership, or association, and (except as provided in sections 4910(e) and 4911(a) of this title) includes any officer, employee, department, agency, or instrumentality of the United States, a State, or any political subdivision of a State.

(3) The term "product" means any manufactured article or goods or component thereof; except that such term does not include -

(A) any aircraft, aircraft engine, propeller, or appliance, as such terms are defined in section 40102(a) of title 49; or

(B)(i) any military weapons or equipment which are designed for combat use; (ii) any rockets or equipment which are designed for research, experimental, or developmental work to be performed by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration; or (iii) to the extent provided by regulations of the Administrator, any other machinery or equipment designed for use in experimental work done by or for the Federal Government.

(4) The term "ultimate purchaser" means the first person who in good faith purchases a product for purposes other than resale.

(5) The term "new product" means (A) a product the equitable or legal title of which has never been transferred to an ultimate purchaser, or (B) a product which is imported or offered for importation into the United States and which is manufactured after the effective date of a regulation under section 4905 or 4907 of this title which would have been applicable to such product had it been manufactured in the United States.

(6) The term "manufacturer" means any person engaged in the manufacturing or assembling of new products, or the importing of new products for resale, or who acts for, and is controlled by, any such person in connection with the distribution of such products.

(7) The term "commerce" means trade, traffic, commerce, or transportation -

(A) between a place in a State and any place outside thereof, or

(B) which affects trade, traffic, commerce, or transportation described in subparagraph (A).

(8) The term "distribute in commerce" means sell in, offer for sale in, or introduce or deliver for introduction into, commerce.

(9) The term "State" includes the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Guam, and the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands.

(10) The term "Federal agency" means an executive agency (as defined in section 105 of title 5) and includes the United States Postal Service.

(11) The term "environmental noise" means the intensity, duration, and the character of sounds from all sources.

§ 4903. Federal programs

(a) Furtherance of Congressional policy

The Congress authorizes and directs that Federal agencies shall, to the fullest extent consistent with their authority under Federal laws administered by them, carry out the programs within their control in such a manner as to further the policy declared in section 4901(b) of this title.

(b) Presidential authority to exempt activities or facilities from compliance requirements

Each department, agency, or instrumentality of the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of the Federal Government -

(1) having jurisdiction over any property or facility, or

(2) engaged in any activity resulting, or which may result, in the emission of noise, shall comply with Federal, State, interstate, and local requirements respecting control and abatement of environmental noise to the same extent that any person is subject to such requirements. The President may exempt any single activity or facility, including noise emission sources or classes thereof, of any department, agency, or instrumentality in the executive branch from compliance with any such requirement if he determines it to be in the paramount interest of the United States to do so; except that no exemption, other than for those products referred to in section 4902(3)(B) of this title, may be granted from the requirements of sections 4905, 4916, and 4917 of this title. No such exemption shall be granted due to lack of appropriation unless the President shall have specifically requested such appropriation as a part of the budgetary process and the Congress shall have failed to make available such requested appropriation. Any exemption shall be for a period not in excess of one year, but additional exemptions may be granted for periods of not to exceed one year upon the President's making a new determination. The President shall report each January to the Congress all exemptions from the requirements of this section granted during the preceding calendar year, together with his reason for granting such exemption.

(c) Coordination of programs of Federal agencies; standards and regulations; status reports

(1) The Administrator shall coordinate the programs of all Federal agencies relating to noise research and noise control. Each Federal agency shall, upon request, furnish to the Administrator such information as he may reasonably require to determine the nature, scope, and results of the noise-research and noise-control programs of the agency.

(2) Each Federal agency shall consult with the Administrator in prescribing standards or regulations respecting noise. If at any time the Administrator has reason to believe that a standard or regulation, or any proposed standard or regulation, of any Federal agency respecting noise does not protect the public health and welfare to the extent he believes to be required and feasible, he may request such agency to review and report to him on the advisability of revising such standard or regulation to provide such protection. Any such request may be published in the Federal Register and shall be accompanied by a detailed statement of the information on which it is based. Such agency shall complete the requested review and report to the Administrator within such time as the Administrator specifies in the request, but such time specified may not be less than ninety days from the date the request was made. The report shall be published in the Federal Register and shall be accompanied by a detailed statement of the findings and conclusions of the agency respecting the revision of its standard or regulation. With respect to the Federal Aviation Administration, section 44715 of title 49 shall apply in lieu of this paragraph.

(3) On the basis of regular consultation with appropriate Federal agencies, the Administrator shall compile and publish, from time to time, a report on the status and progress of Federal activities relating to noise research and noise control. This report shall describe the noise-control programs of each Federal agency and assess the contributions of those programs to the Federal Government's overall efforts to control noise.

§ 4904. Identification of major noise sources

(a) Development and publication of criteria

(1) The Administrator shall, after consultation with appropriate Federal agencies and within nine months of October 27, 1972, develop and publish criteria with respect to noise. Such criteria shall reflect the scientific knowledge most useful in indicating the kind and extent of all identifiable effects on the public health or welfare which may be expected from differing quantities and qualities of noise.

(2) The Administrator shall, after consultation with appropriate Federal agencies and within twelve months of October 27, 1972, publish information on the levels of environmental noise the attainment and maintenance of which in defined areas under various conditions are requisite to protect the public health and welfare with an adequate margin of safety.

(b) Compilation and publication of reports on noise sources and control technology

The Administrator shall, after consultation with appropriate Federal agencies, compile and publish a report or series of reports

(1) identifying products (or classes of products) which in his judgment are major sources of noise, and

(2) giving information on techniques for control of noise from such products, including available data on the technology, costs, and alternative methods of noise control. The first such report shall be published not later than eighteen months after October 27, 1972.

(c) Supplemental criteria and reports

The Administrator shall from time to time review and, as appropriate, revise or supplement any criteria or reports published under this section.

(d) Publication in Federal Register

Any report (or revision thereof) under subsection (b)(1) of this section identifying major noise sources shall be published in the Federal Register. The publication or revision under this section of any criteria or information on control techniques shall be announced in the Federal Register, and copies shall be made available to the general public.

§ 4905. Noise emission standards for products distributed in commerce

(a) Proposed regulations

(1) The Administrator shall publish proposed regulations, meeting the requirements of subsection (c) of this section, for each product --

(A) which is identified (or is part of a class identified) in any report published under section 4904(b)(1) of this title as a major source of noise,

(B) for which, in his judgment, noise emission standards are feasible, and

(C) which falls in one of the following categories:

(i) Construction equipment.

(ii) Transportation equipment (including recreational vehicles and related equipment).

(iii) Any motor or engine (including any equipment of which an engine or motor is an integral part).

(iv) Electrical or electronic equipment.

(2)(A) Initial proposed regulations under paragraph (1) shall be published not later than eighteen months after October 27, 1972, and shall apply to any product described in paragraph (1) which is identified (or is a part of a class identified) as a major source of noise in any report published under section 4904(b)(1) of this title on or before the date of publication of such initial proposed regulations.

(B) In the case of any product described in paragraph (1) which is identified (or is part of a class identified) as a major source of noise in a report published under section 4904(b)(1) of this title after publication of the initial proposed regulations under subparagraph (A) of this paragraph, regulations under paragraph (1) for such product shall be proposed and published by the Administrator not later than eighteen months after such report is published.

(3) After proposed regulations respecting a product have been published under paragraph (2), the Administrator shall, unless in his judgment noise emission standards are not feasible for such product, prescribe regulations, meeting the requirements of subsection (c) of this section, for such product --

(A) not earlier than six months after publication of such proposed regulations, and

(B) not later than --

(i) twenty-four months after October 27, 1972, in the case of a product subject to proposed regulations published under paragraph (2)(A), or

(ii) in the case of any other product, twenty-four months after the publication of the report under section 4904(b)(1) of this title identifying it (or a class of products of which it is a part) as a major source of noise.

(b) Authority to publish regulations not otherwise required

The Administrator may publish proposed regulations, meeting the requirements of subsection (c) of this section, for any product for which he is not required by subsection (a) of this section to prescribe regulations but for which, in his judgment, noise emission standards are feasible and are requisite to protect the public health and welfare. Not earlier than six months after the date of publication of such proposed regulations respecting such product, he may prescribe regulations, meeting the requirements of subsection (c) of this section, for such product.

(c) Contents of regulations; appropriate consideration of other standards; participation by interested persons; revision

(1) Any regulation prescribed under subsection (a) or (b) of this section (and any revision thereof) respecting a product shall include a noise emission standard which shall set limits on noise emissions from such product and shall be a standard which in the Administrator's judgment, based on criteria published under section 4904 of this title, is requisite to protect the public health and welfare, taking into account the magnitude and conditions of use of such product (alone or in combination with other noise sources), the degree of noise reduction achievable through the application of the best available technology, and the cost of compliance. In establishing such a standard for any product, the Administrator shall give appropriate consideration to standards under other laws designed to safeguard the health and welfare of persons, including any standards under chapter 301 of title 49, the Clean Air Act (42 U.S.C. 7401 et seq.), and the Federal Water Pollution Control Act (33 U.S.C. 1251 et seq.). Any such noise emission standards shall be a performance standard. In addition, any regulation under subsection (a) or (b) of this section (and any revision thereof) may contain testing procedures necessary to assure compliance with the emission standard in such regulation, and may contain provisions respecting instructions of the manufacturer for the maintenance, use, or repair of the product.

(2) After publication of any proposed regulations under this section, the Administrator shall allow interested persons an opportunity to participate in rulemaking in accordance with the first sentence of section 553(c) of title 5.

(3) The Administrator may revise any regulation prescribed by him under this section by (A) publication of proposed revised regulations, and (B) the promulgation, not earlier than six months after the date of such publication, of regulations making the revision; except that a revision which makes only technical or clerical corrections in a regulation under this section may be promulgated earlier than six months after such date if the Administrator finds that such earlier promulgation is in the public interest.

(d) Warranty by manufacturer of conformity of product with regulations; transfer of cost obligation from manufacturer to dealer prohibited

(1) On and after the effective date of any regulation prescribed under subsection (a) or (b) of this section, the manufacturer of each new product to which such regulation applies shall warrant to the ultimate purchaser and each subsequent purchaser that such product is designed, built, and equipped so as to conform at the time of sale with such regulation.

(2) Any cost obligation of any dealer incurred as a result of any requirement imposed by paragraph (1) of this subsection shall be borne by the manufacturer. The transfer of any such cost obligation from a manufacturer to any dealer through franchise or other agreement is prohibited.

(3) If a manufacturer includes in any advertisement a statement respecting the cost or value of noise emission control devices or systems, such manufacturer shall set forth in such statement the cost or value attributed to such devices or systems by the Secretary of Labor (through the Bureau of Labor Statistics). The Secretary of Labor, and his representatives, shall have the same access for this purpose to the books, documents, papers, and records of a manufacturer as the Comptroller General has to those of a recipient of assistance for purposes of section 311 of the Clean Air Act (42 U.S.C. 7611).

(e) State and local regulations

(1) No State or political subdivision thereof may adopt or enforce --

(A) with respect to any new product for which a regulation has been prescribed by the Administrator under this section, any law or regulation which sets a limit on noise emissions from such new product and which is not identical to such regulation of the Administrator; or

(B) with respect to any component incorporated into such new product by the manufacturer of such product, any law or regulation setting a limit on noise emissions from such component when so incorporated.

(2) Subject to sections 4916 and 4917 of this title, nothing in this section precludes or denies the right of any State or political subdivision thereof to establish and enforce controls on environmental noise (or one or more sources thereof) through the licensing, regulation, or restriction of the use, operation, or movement of any product or combination of products.

(f) Publication of notice of receipt of revision petitions and proposed revised regulations

At any time after the promulgation of regulations respecting a product under this section, a State or political subdivision thereof may petition the Administrator to revise such standard on the grounds that a more stringent standard under subsection (c) of this section is necessary to protect the public health and welfare. The Administration shall publish notice of receipt of such petition in the Federal Register and shall within ninety days of receipt of such petition respond by (1) publication of proposed revised regulations in accordance with subsection (c)(3) of this section, or (2) publication in the Federal Register of a decision not to publish such proposed revised regulations at that time, together with a detailed explanation for such decision.

§ 4906. Omitted

§ 4907. Labeling

(a) Regulations

The Administrator shall by regulation designate any product (or class thereof) --

(1) which emits noise capable of adversely affecting the public health or welfare; or

(2) which is sold wholly or in part on the basis of its effectiveness in reducing noise.

(b) Manner of notice; form; methods and units of measurement

For each product (or class thereof) designated under subsection (a) of this section the Administrator shall by regulation require that notice be given to the prospective user of the level of the noise the product emits, or of its effectiveness in reducing noise, as the case may be. Such regulations shall specify (1) whether such notice shall be affixed to the product or to the outside of its container, or to both, at the time of its sale to the ultimate purchaser or whether such notice shall be given to the prospective user in some other manner, (2) the form of the notice, and (3) the methods and units of measurement to be used. Section 4905(c)(2) of this title shall apply to the prescribing of any regulation under this section.

(c) State regulation of product labeling

This section does not prevent any State or political subdivision thereof from regulating product labeling or information respecting products in any way not in conflict with regulations prescribed by the Administrator under this section.

§ 4908. Imports

The Secretary of the Treasury shall, in consultation with the Administrator, issue regulations to carry out the provisions of this chapter with respect to new products imported or offered for importation.

§ 4909. Prohibited acts

(a) Except as otherwise provided in subsection (b) of this section, the following acts or the causing thereof are prohibited:

(1) In the case of a manufacturer, to distribute in commerce any new product manufactured after the effective date of a regulation prescribed under section 4905 of this title which is applicable to such product, except in conformity with such regulation.

(2)(A) The removal or rendering inoperative by any person, other than for purposes of maintenance, repair, or replacement, of any device or element of design incorporated into any product in compliance with regulations under section 4905 of this title, prior to its sale or delivery to the ultimate purchaser or while it is in use, or (B) the use of a product after such device or element of design has been removed or rendered inoperative by any person.

(3) In the case of a manufacturer, to distribute in commerce any new product manufactured after the effective date of a regulation prescribed under section 4907(b) of this title (requiring information respecting noise) which is applicable to such product, except in conformity with such regulation.

(4) The removal by any person of any notice affixed to a product or container pursuant to regulations prescribed under section 4907(b) of this title, prior to sale of the product to the ultimate purchaser.

(5) The importation into the United States by any person of any new product in violation of a regulation prescribed under section 4908 of this title which is applicable to such product.

(6) The failure or refusal by any person to comply with any requirement of section 4910(d) or 4912(a) of this title or regulations prescribed under section 4912(a), 4916, or 4917 of this title.

(b)(1) For the purpose of research, investigations, studies, demonstrations, or training, or for reasons of national security, the Administrator may exempt for a specified period of time any product, or class thereof, from paragraphs (1), (2), (3), and (5) of subsection (a) of this section, upon such terms and conditions as he may find necessary to protect the public health or welfare.

(2) Paragraphs (1), (2), (3), and (4) of subsection (a) of this section shall not apply with respect to any product which is manufactured solely for use outside any State and which (and the container of which) is labeled or otherwise marked to show that it is manufactured solely for use outside any State; except that such paragraphs shall apply to such product if it is in fact distributed in commerce for use in any State.

§ 4910. Enforcement

(a) Criminal penalties

(1) Any person who willfully or knowingly violates paragraph (1), (3), (5), or (6) of subsection (a) of section 4909 of this title shall be punished by a fine of not more than $25,000 per day of violation, or by imprisonment for not more than one year, or by both. If the conviction is for a violation committed after a first conviction of such person under this subsection, punishment shall be by a fine of not more than $50,000 per day of violation, or by imprisonment for not more than two years, or by both.

(2) Any person who violates paragraph (1), (3), (5), or (6) of subsection (a) of section 4909 of this title shall be subject to a civil penalty not to exceed $10,000 per day of such violation.

(b) Separate violations

For the purpose of this section, each day of violation of any paragraph of section 4909(a) of this title shall constitute a separate violation of that section.

(c) Actions to restrain violations

The district courts of the United States shall have jurisdiction of actions brought by and in the name of the United States to restrain any violations of section 4909(a) of this title.

(d) Orders issued to protect public health and welfare; notice; opportunity for hearing

(1) Whenever any person is in violation of section 4909(a) of this title, the Administrator may issue an order specifying such relief as he determines is necessary to protect the public health and welfare.

(2) Any order under this subsection shall be issued only after notice and opportunity for a hearing in accordance with section 554 of title 5.

(e) "Person" defined

The term "person," as used in this section, does not include a department, agency, or instrumentality of the United States.

§ 4911. Citizen suits

(a) Authority to commence suits

Except as provided in subsection (b) of this section, any person (other than the United States) may commence a civil action on his own behalf --

(1) against any person (including (A) the United States, and (B) any other governmental instrumentality or agency to the extent permitted by the eleventh amendment to the Constitution) who is alleged to be in violation of any noise control requirement (as defined in subsection (e) [FOOTNOTE 1] of this section), or

[FOOTNOTE 1: So in original. Probably should be subsection "(f)"].

(2) against --

(A) the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency where there is alleged a failure of such Administrator to perform any act or duty under this chapter which is not discretionary with such Administrator, or

(B) the Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration where there is alleged a failure of such Administrator to perform any act or duty under section 44715 of title 49 which is not discretionary with such Administrator. The district courts of the United States shall have jurisdiction, without regard to the amount in controversy, to restrain such person from violating such noise control requirement or to order such Administrator to perform such act or duty, as the case may be.

(b) Notice

No action may be commenced --

(1) under subsection (a)(1) of this section --

(A) prior to sixty days after the plaintiff has given notice of the violation (i) to the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (and to the Federal Aviation Administrator in the case of a violation of a noise control requirement under such section 44715 of title 49) and (ii) to any alleged violator of such requirement, or

(B) if an Administrator has commenced and is diligently prosecuting a civil action to require compliance with the noise control requirement, but in any such action in a court of the United States any person may intervene as a matter of right, or

(2) under subsection (a)(2) of this section prior to sixty days after the plaintiff has given notice to the defendant that he will commence such action. Notice under this subsection shall be given in such manner as the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency shall prescribe by regulation.

(c) Intervention

In an action under this section, the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, if not a party, may intervene as a matter of right. In an action under this section respecting a noise control requirement under section 44715 of title 49, the Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration, if not a party, may also intervene as a matter of right.

(d) Litigation costs

The court, in issuing any final order in any action brought pursuant to subsection (a) of this section, may award costs of litigation (including reasonable attorney and expert witness fees) to any party, whenever the court determines such an award is appropriate.



Continued in Part Two