To be submitted April 21, 1999 (International Noise Awareness Day)
President William Jefferson Clinton
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20500
Dear Mr. President:
Research has demonstrated that noise is one of the leading causes of hearing loss in the 28 million Americans with impaired hearing. You are numbered amongst this population. Studies have also suggested that noise is linked to physiological and psychological disorders. Noise has been found to be especially hazardous for young children, interfering with language acquisition, cognition, and learning. To the millions of people who live with noise daily, especially residents near airports, noise has interfered with their ability to carry out daily activities, diminishing their quality of life.
In 1972, the Noise Control Act was passed and Congress declared 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." In keeping with that policy, the Office of Noise Abatement and Control (ONAC) in the EPA was established. The office did an excellent job in educating people to the dangers of noise through its pamphlets, posters, school programs and public service announcements. The office also assisted states and cities with their noise efforts and was charged with identifying major noise sources and creating noise emission standards.
Despite the growing awareness in the 1970's that noise was a hazardous pollutant, former President Reagan largely terminated the funding for this office. There is but a "skeleton" office left. Noise problems are increasing as we move into the 21st Century and we are asking you to refund ONAC by allocating five million dollars for that office in your next budget. Knowing that this amount can't possibly cover the expenses of the broad spectrum of activities stipulated in the Noise Control Act, we would like the office to focus on the section of the Noise Control Act that deals with "Quiet Communities, research, and public information." By educating the public on the hazards of noise, by supporting research programs, and lending assistance to cities and states, the Office would be carrying out, in part, its mandate under the law to promote a quieter and safer environment for all of us.
The other sections of the Noise Control Act, e.g. labeling, noise emission standards, noise sources, equally important in creating a quieter environment, require some updating. Since the Noise Control Act was passed, there has been a considerable growth in noise sources as well as the knowledge to abate and mitigate the noise. A group of the concerned legislators have been preparing federal legislation that will more effectively deal with the growing noise problem and I hope your office will offer them some assistance.
I urge you to use your authority to refund the Office of Noise Abatement and Control. By so doing you will be contributing significantly to combating a pollutant that is dangerous to the physical and mental well-being of this nation's citizens.