Volume 13, Issue 4 - May 2012

WDMA Update

Will They or Won’t They?
Senate Legislation Would Reform EPA Lead Rule
Ben Gann

Senator James Inhofe (R-OK), ranking member of the Committee on Environment and Public Works, introduced legislation in March making practical reforms to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Lead: Renovation, Repair and Painting (LRRP) rule. The bill, known as the Lead Exposure Reduction Amendments Act (S. 2148), seeks to balance the rule’s additional compliance costs for remodelers and contractors with the need to protect pregnant women and children under age six. WDMA worked closely with Sen. Inhofe in getting the bill introduced and has made its passage a top priority.

What it Would Do
The legislation would revise the LRRP rule by restoring the “Opt-Out” provision, suspending enforcement of the rule if EPA cannot approve a test kit meeting the regulation’s false positive requirement, providing a de minimis exemption for first-time paperwork non-compliance by certified contractors, granting an exemption for renovations after a natural disaster and prohibiting EPA from expanding the rule to commercial and public buildings until EPA conducts a study demonstrating the need for such an action.

In July 2010, three months after the LRRP rule took effect, EPA removed the “Opt-Out” provision from the rule. EPA estimates that removing the provision adds more than $336 million per year in compliance costs to the regulated community.

However, the costs are far greater because of EPA’s flawed economic analysis, which significantly underestimates the true compliance costs. While EPA initially estimated that compliance costs would add $35 to a typical remodeling job, for a typical window replacement project the cost ranges from $90 to $160 per window opening, easily adding more than $1,000 to each project.

EPA has also failed to meet the requirements of its own rule by failing to approve an accurate lead test kit that produces no more than 10 percent false positives. This means consumers are paying additional costs for work practices that are unnecessary, and provide no benefit, but must be employed because of false positive test results. EPA’s initial estimates stated that an improved test kit would reduce the rule’s cost by $400 million a year.

"Last year, EPA began more aggressive LRRP enforcement actions, but to date inspections have primarily focused on compliance with paperwork requirements and not safe work site practices."

Enforcing and Expanding
Last year, EPA began more aggressive LRRP enforcement actions, but to date inspections have focused primarily on compliance with paperwork requirements and not safe worksite practices. Further, the agency’s consumer education on the rule has been inadequate and nearly nonexistent, causing consumers to hire uncertified contractors because of the increased costs in hiring certified renovators. Consequently, legitimate businesses complying with the rule cannot compete for much-needed work against non-compliant contractors who lack the training to actually perform lead-safe renovations and prevent lead hazard exposures.

EPA has now begun the process of extending the LRRP rule to commercial and public buildings through an advance notice of proposed rulemaking—even though Congress only granted EPA authority to issue guidelines for work practices applicable to LRRP activities. Congress has directed the agency to first conduct a separate and independent study of lead paint hazards in public and commercial buildings before it can issue regulations for renovating and remodeling those structures. Despite lacking data on the lead hazards in commercial buildings, EPA is nonetheless moving closer to expanding the rule’s reach.

What You Can Do
All door and window industry representatives are urged to contact their members of Congress to urge their support for the legislation. They can go to the WDMA website at www.wdma.com and click on the “Advocacy” tab to visit the WDMA Legislative Action Center to send an email to their members of Congress.

Ben Gann is director of legislative affairs and grassroots activities for the Window and Door Manufacturers Association in Washington, D.C.


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