Montana Congressman Helps Ease the LRRP Burden for Contractors

July 14th, 2011 by DWM Magazine

The U.S. House Appropriations Committee approved the Fiscal Year 2012 Interior and Environment Appropriations Bill on July 12. This included an approved amendment offered by Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-Mont.) to stop funding of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) Lead: Renovation, Repair and Painting (LRRP) activities until an accurate test kit has been developed.

“This is exactly the sort of regulatory bungling that’s costing us jobs and slowing economic recovery,” says Rehberg. “If the EPA is going to create a bunch of hoops for small businesses to jump through, the very least they can do is give them the tools they need to comply with the rules. Instead of growing their businesses and creating jobs, these hard working business men and women are stuck picking up the EPA’s slack. Meanwhile the EPA is out creating even more paralyzing regulation. This has got to stop, and my amendment does that.”

The LRRP mandated that contractors can only use EPA-approved test kits and took effect last September.

“It’s July 2011, and there is still not an EPA-approved test kit,” says a press release issued by Rehberg’s office.

Rehberg’s proposed amendment requests that no funding go toward the enforcement or implementation of the lead rule until the EPA certifies a lead testing kit that meets the false positive and false negative criteria that they themselves laid out.

Industry associations, including the Window and Door Manufacturers Association, National Association of the Remodeling Industry, and the National Lumber and Building Material Dealers Association, banded together earlier this week and sent a letter to the U.S. House Committee on Appropriations pledging their support for Rehberg’s amendment.

“The regulation requires EPA to have a commercially-available lead testing kit that meets specific criteria for both false-positive and false negative rates by September 1, 2010,” write the groups. “EPA’s entire economic analysis for the RRP, and its impact on small businesses, is dependent upon the availability of this test kit because the original kit (Phase I) provided false-positive rates that greatly exceeded the regulation’s requirements. To date, no new accurate test kit exists and, consequently, contractors are forced to use older kits that, by virtue of their inaccuracy, are forcing compliance with lead-safe work practices on homes that otherwise would have tested negative. This means higher costs for consumers that likely do not have lead-based paint in their homes that would require compliance with the lead rule.”

In fact, the WDMA worked very closely with Rehberg’s office on the amendment, and WDMA president Mike O’Brien says the association will continue to work with the House and Senate to gain full support for the bill when it comes time for a vote.

 Following passage of the amendment, American Architectural Manufacturers Association officials say they also will continue to work toward proper monitoring of the rule.

“We remain determined to require a Congressional review of the mishandling of this rule,” says Richard Walker, AAMA’s president and CEO. “The inability of the EPA to properly monitor compliance with the LRRP final rule and ‘opt-out’ amendment is now jeopardizing the very segment of the U.S. population deemed most ‘at risk’ by EPA’s own assessment, in addition to impeding a recovery of construction jobs and energy-efficient home retrofitting across the country.

Indeed, more work is yet to be done and the WDMA will continue to work toward passage of the amendment on behalf of the fenestration industry.

“WDMA worked closely with our coaltion partners here in Washington to secure passage of the Rehberg Amendment,” says O’Brien. “We will now need to seek passage in the full House and Senate.  If EPA is going to enforce the lead rule on the regulated community, we expect EPA to adhere to the rule as well. WDMA is continuing to pursue modification of the rule through the courts and will seek additional legislative vehicles to stop the agressive expansion of the rule that EPA is seeking.”

 

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  1. I’d like to meet Rep. Rehberg to discuss withdrawing his bill regarding EPA’s RRP and “test kits.” Unfortunately, Rep. Rehberg is very seriously misguided / misinformed on this subject.

    Consultants all over the USA have XRF testing machines which are highly accurate and lead-based paint inspections are inexpensive. We are averaging $59.17 per apartment unit, more for smaller buildings, less for larger ones. Yesterday I performed a lead-based paint inspection of a 28-unit apartment building and obtained 1,049 readings, with time to return to the office to work on reports. Using the inaccurate “test kits” would have required one week on site at that building, and would have produced over 1,000 damage spots. Inspections of houses cost $350 to $450.

    Contractors need to work with a good consultant in their area to fit inspections, especially smaller ones, into their schedules.

    The chemical “test kits” which are swabs or jars or solutions are not used by any reputable lead-based paint consultant, and none of us would mind if they were simply banned.

    In a way, we are the anti-regulators, as our inspections counter EPA’s required assumption that lead-based paint is everywhere on pre-1978 houses and apartments. We’ve never tested a residential building constructed 1960 to 1978 where more than 1% of the painted surface area was coated with lead-based paint. The oldest residential building we’ve tested with none was constructed in 1955. Even the older building do not have it everywhere. Thus, we almost always give the property owners and managers who hire us good, or very good news. Many proudly display the “Lead-Based Paint Free” certificates we have issued.

    EPA’s main mistakes were:

    1) Not requiring that apartment owners inspect their buildings by 2014

    2) Not requiring that homeowners inspect their residences at the time of sale, or prior to renovation work

    3) Not banning the unreliable “test kits.”

  2. I have new information.

    I spoke with someone in Representative Rehberg’s office this week, and was told that contractors in Montana and other states which are mostly rural complained that consultants were few and far between, so they want an accurate chemical “test kit.”. I pointed out that consultants have long been needed to test for asbestos, so the far out projects should already have been more costly due to the travel time required for the consultant. In many cases the same consulting company provides both services. EPA’s web site show 14 lead inspection companies located in Montana, and companies located elsewhere could also provide services there.

    Of course, it seems obvious that they contractors were and are ignoring asbestos, and want to keep ignoring lead. Thus, they (and many building owners) need mirrors to see why there was demand to create a regulation such as RRP.

    I encouraged her to also understand that the regulation is putting good contractors between the rock of heavy penalties for non-complaince and the hard place of losing business to those who ignore lead (many are illegals), so EPA may have shot themselves in the foot by not requiring owners to have buildings inspected. I suggest giving apartment owners three years to have all of their buildings inspected, and requiring that owner-occupied houses be inspected when sold, or before renovation work is done.

    If someone chooses to have a property far out, everything will be more expensive, not just lead testing.

    Of course, this applies to renovations, not simple projects involving only wood.

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