Senate Bill Could Simplify EPA’s Lead Paint Rule

August 6th, 2015 by Editor

The Window and Door Manufacturers Association (WDMA) and the National Lumber and Building Material Dealers Association (NLBMDA) both applaud the introduction of legislation on Thursday in the U.S. Senate that would reform the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Lead: Renovation, Repair and Painting (LRRP) Rule to reduce the burden it puts on renovatoros while protecting pregnant women and small children from lead hazards.

The “Lead Exposure Reduction Amendments Act of 2015” (S. 1987) was introduced by Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) and two original co-sponsors, Sens. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) and John Thune (R-SD). Inhofe is the chair of the Senate Environment & Public Works Committee, which has jurisdiction over this issue. The bill is a companion piece of legislation to H.R. 2328, introduced in the House of Representatives by Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-ND) earlier this year.

“After five years of experience with this rule, it is clear that EPA still has no intention of meeting the requirements of its own regulation. EPA’s failure to produce an accurate test kit has created the need for costly alternatives to renovators and others in industry,” said WDMA president Michael O’Brien in a statement. “The regulation continues to burden many homeowners with unnecessary costs due to faulty test kits and the removal of the opt-out clause. This legislation is a common-sense fix which will refocus efforts on protecting pregnant women and small children, and we applaud Senator Inhofe for his continued leadership on this issue.”

“EPA’s effort to expand the Lead Rule beyond its original intent and failure to approve a lead test kit meeting its own rule has been a major disappointment,” said NLBMDA chairperson J.D. Saunders, vice president of Economy Lumber in Campbell, Calif., in a statement. “Safety is a priority for NLBMDA and we support protecting pregnant women and young children from lead exposure but action is needed to reduce the regulatory burden of the rule.”

The LRRP rule requires any renovation work and all door and window replacements that disturb more than six square feet of a pre-1978 home’s interior to follow rigorous and costly work practices. The work must be supervised by an EPA-certified renovator and performed by an EPA-certified renovation firm. In July 2010, EPA removed the “opt-out provision” from the rule, which allowed homeowners without children under six or pregnant women in the home to allow their contractor to forego lead-safe work practices. By removing the opt-out provision, EPA more than doubled the number of homes subject to the LRRP Rule, and EPA has estimated that this amendment will add more than $336 million per year in compliance costs.

In addition, despite EPA stating a commercially available test kit producing no more than 10 percent false positives would be on the market when the rule took effect in 2010, no test kit on the market meets this standard. The lack of compliant test kits approved by the EPA has added millions in compliance costs with consumers paying for unnecessary work because of false positive test results.

Among the key provisions, this bill would restore the “opt-out” clause, suspend the LRRP rule if EPA cannot approve a commercially available test kit meeting the regulation’s requirements, prohibit expansion of the rule to commercial buildings until EPA conducts a study demonstrating the need for such action and provide a de minimis exemption for first-time paperwork violations.

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