Trump Budget Could Cut Lead-Paint Programs

April 6th, 2017 by Trey Barrineau

Funding for two Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) programs that target lead-based paint in homes could be eliminated under President Trump’s proposed 2018 budget. The cuts could strip federal funding for enforcement of the controversial Lead: Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule (LRRP), but they would not get rid of the regulation itself. Instead, enforcement costs would be transferred to the states.

According to the budget plan obtained in March by the Washington Post, the Lead Risk Reduction Program’s $2.6 million budget and 72.8 full-time employees would be eliminated, along with a $14 million grant that also covers lead paint programs. These are the primary funding mechanisms for enforcing the LRRP rule, according to fiscal year 2017 budget documents reviewed by DWM.

The reductions aim to return “the responsibility for funding to state and local entities,” according to descriptions of the program cuts in the budget plan. Going forward, the programs will “identify statutory obligations that must be fulfilled by the EPA and provide information on how and under what alternative program they will be fulfilled.”

Fourteen states currently are authorized by EPA to run their own RRP programs: Alabama, Delaware, Georgia, Iowa, Kansas, Massachusetts, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, Utah, Washington and Wisconsin.

The EPA’s LRRP rule requires any renovation work — including door and window replacements — that disturbs more than six square feet of a pre-1978 home’s interior to follow rigorous and costly work practices to protect residents from exposure to lead, which can be especially dangerous for young children. The work must be supervised by an EPA-certified renovator and performed by an EPA-certified renovation firm.

The Window and Door Manufacturers Association (WDMA) said in a statement that it’s still assessing the impact of the potential program cuts.

“WDMA is evaluating the impact of the administration’s potential reorganizing of the LRRP program, but it is still too early to fully determine what that will be,” says WMDA government affairs director Kevin McKenney. “We are looking to the administration to provide additional information in their formal budget proposal, but WDMA is continuing to pursue the needed reforms to the program’s implementation.”

Industry groups such as WDMA argue that the extra cost associated with lead-safety procedures prevents many homeowners  in older buildings from replacing their windows, which frequently aren’t energy-efficient. At its recent legislative conference in Washington, D.C., WDMA urged members of Congress to sign a letter to the EPA asking the agency to consider changes to the rule, such as restoring the opt-out provision for homes without a child under the age of six or a pregnant woman. The lack of an accurate test kit for lead paint is also an issue that WDMA wants the EPA to address.

According to the EPA, approved test kits for the RRP Rule have a failure rate of between 22.5 percent and 84 percent, and WDMA says false positives have led to millions of dollars in extra costs for homeowners.

In July 2010, EPA removed the “Opt-Out Provision” from the rule. By removing that, the agency more than doubled the number of homes subject to the RRP rule.

Cuts to the lead programs at the EPA are part of a broader administration plan to reduce the agency’s funding by 31 percent. To achieve these big cuts, the Trump administration would eliminate more than 50 programs, including Energy Star.

 

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