Despite the extensive statutory and regulatory control of Pennsylvania's mining industry, the Commonwealth has failed to adequately address the issue of excessive operational mining noise. Currently, a citizen's only recourse within Pennsylvania is to prove that a mining operation poses a public nuisance, an inherently subjective approach with an evidentiary burden citizens often fail to meet. Acknowledging that difficulty, Pennsylvania courts have signaled that the burden may be alleviated through the adoption and use of a decibel based sound level standard.

The federal government has published several guidance documents identifying decibel-based sound pressure levels that adversely affect the public. Furthermore, some state agencies have promulgated regulatory schemes utilizing decibel-based thresholds to address other types of noise sources. By analyzing the current case law in Pennsylvania relating to excessive operational mining noise, the guidance published by the federal government, and the regulatory examples of other states, this Comment will recommend a new decibel-based approach to tackling the public's concern over excessive operational mining noise.



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