Legislation & Rulemaking
Pennsylvania Noise-related Legislation & Rulemaking
Proposed Rulemaking: Noncoal Mining Clarifications and Corrections (#7-554)—PANPA plans to submit formal comments. Due 5/4/2021. The rulemaking allows ad hoc decisions by the DEP to raise airblast noise (explosions) from noncoal mining to more than 133dB as measured at area residences, schools, public buildings, etc. Under the current rule, the maximum sound level may be lowered but not raised. 133dB already results in permanent hearing damage (and noise carries a host of other adverse health effects). The Rule also fails to comply with the Federal Pollution Prevention Act of 1990. Federal law defines noise as pollution and thus the proposed increases in noise pollution require abatement/mitigation analysis. Also, the Rule allows property owners to require renters to waive the noise standards. The Rule does not require informed-consent from the renter or even require disclosure to the renter of the adverse health effects of noise.
2021-2022 Regular Session
House Bill 988—Act repealing the 2017 fireworks law (repeal Act 43)
PANPA Stance: STONGEST SUPPORT possible.
In 2017, the Pennsylvania Legislature passed Act 43 to generate tax revenue. Act 43 allowed almost all adult residents to buy and detonate extremely loud and powerful fireworks. Noise complaints from fireworks detonations now overwhelm communities. Fireworks detonations interfere with private property rights, interfere with police, interfere with human health, and interfere with animal health. Fireworks also pose a serious fire and safety hazard. PANPA strongly supports the immediate repeal. PANPA, however, advises that a corollary criminal statute (of at least a misdemeanor and higher grades for repeat offenders) is needed to criminally charge those detonating fireworks without a bona fide license—a statute such as amending the criminal assault statutes to finally include aural assault.
House Bill 478—Act regulating off-highway motorcycles in a manner like ATVs and snowmobiles.
PANPA Stance: Strongly Opposed as drafted.
The Act simply adds off-highway motorcycles to the already broken Vehicle Code (Title 75). 75 Pa.C.S. § 7701 et seq. already provides no meaningful enforcement on noise emissions from such vehicles. See 75 Pa.C.S. § 7743. The Title still permits the operation of recreational vehicles at explosive sound levels of at least 8x to 32x louder than current maximum, safe, sound-levels (and at levels that result in hearing damage to others). Also, the Title still relies on the seriously outdated 1998 SAE Recommended Practices as its source for supposed noise regulation. SAE Recommended Practices are complex engineering standards, not noise enforcement standards or medical standards. Thus, the the HB478 adds yet-another-source of noise emissions in natural areas and communities without any meaningful noise pollution abatement. STRONGLY OPPOSED until the rest of the Act is revised to provide meaningful noise abatement.
House Bill 216—Act barring local government from any reasonable regulation of agritourism (very broadly-defined)
PANPA Stance: Opposed as drafted
The proposed Act summarily bars local municipalities from restricting "agricultural" tourism. However, the Act broadly defines "agricultural tourism" to include anything remotely and reputedly related somehow to "agriculture" or "rural lifestyle." The Act redefines non-agricultural uses such as wedding venues, musical performance centers, wineries-masquerading-as-performance centers, and other fundamentally non-agricultural activity (race tracks, tractor-pull venues, etc.) as "agricultural uses."
Noise-related Problems as Drafted:
The Act only requires that "musical entertainment" comply with "applicable noise and nuisance ordinances." Thus, the Act violates constitutional law that requires protection of private property rights by failing to comprehensively address noise problems with activities such as pumpkin cannons, rowdy events, loudspeakers (for other than music), weddings, playgrounds, vehicular noise, tractor-pulls, race tracks, etc. PANPA's maintains that ANY activity (not just some music) must comply with the Constitution and thus noise and nuisance regulations (and fundamentally, with simple good neighborliness).
House Bill 113—Motorcycle Honorary Processions
PANPA Stance: Needs revision
The Act defines organized motorcycle [honorary] processions of 10 or more participants.
Noise-related Problems as Drafted:
The Act fails to include under proposed §3107.1(d) a necessary section specifying that all participants must also comply with all other Vehicle Code and legal requirements including noise emissions from motorcycles that violate existing local, state, and federal law.
Under development December 21, 2020
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