A key committee of the U.S. House of Representatives last week approved a fiscal 2012 budget amendment that would limit funding for enforcement of the EPA’s controversial lead-paint Renovation, Repair and Painting (RRP) rule until the agency develops a more accurate paint test kit.
The amendment, offered by Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-Mont.), which must get approval by the House and then the Senate before it goes to the President for his signature, is being praised as a “great step forward” by the National Association of Home Builders’ Remodelers division, which has sharply criticized the RRP rule.
“I’m very pleased that the committee understood how important it is to rein in these EPA excesses,” said NAHB Remodelers Chairman Bob Peterson, a remodeler in Fort Collins, Colo. “NAHB members strongly support the intention of the lead-paint regulations, but without a reliable test kit, the required lead-safe work practices add only expense, and not additional protection.”
A news announcement from Rep. Rehberg’s office says the amendment would “prevent” funding for the enforcement or of the RRP rule “until the EPA recognizes a lead testing kit that meets the false-positive and false-negative criteria that meets their own standards.”
The statement said the EPA established criteria for the test kits that could be used, and required that after September 1, 2010, contractors could only use EPA-approved test kits.
“It’s July 2011, and there is still not an EPA-approved test kit,” the statement from Rehberg’s office said. “In addition, they haven’t taken any steps to amend their self-designated deadline, or give any assurances as to when the kits may be issued.”
EPA representatives did not immediately reply to a Durability + Design request for comment on the Rehberg amendment.
‘Mishandling’ of Rule Cited
NAHB Remodelers emphasized that the House committee’s action represents only a “first step in limiting the EPA's enforcement of the lead rule.”
“While passage through the House and Senate will be an uphill battle, the message to the EPA is that the agency should heed the concerns of professional remodelers about the lead rule,” the organization said. At the same time, the RRP rule remains in effect, and “professional remodelers must continue to follow the lead rule and prepare for enforcement actions,” the group said.
NAHB said the amendment is “testament to the power of NAHB Remodelers, who immediately called and emailed members of Congress who serve on the Appropriations Committee to ask for their support after NAHB alerted them Monday night to the vote.”
Also vocal in its support of the Rehberg amendment was the American Architectural Manufacturers Association (AAMA). The association said it is continuing to urge legislative leaders to review the $1.5 billion RRP rules and “contemplate the impact of these rules on the nation’s employment rate, energy conservation, economic recovery, as well as the safety and health of the most vulnerable residents—pregnant women and children.”
| AAMA president and CEO|
“We remain determined to require a Congressional review of the mishandling of this rule,” said Richard Walker, AAMA 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,” he said.
“By the EPA's own account, the mandatory use of lead testing kits register false-positive readings in approximately 40% of homes tested, forcing the use of costly lead-safe practices where none are warranted,” Walker said in a statement issued by AAMA. “The EPA and U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) estimated that the continued use of these inaccurate test kits results in $200 million being spent annually by U.S. homeowners to erroneously apply the rule to home renovations where no lead, or lead amounts not rising to the levels deemed critical to EPA, is present.”
AAMA also repeated its opposition to further expansion of the RRP rule, including a provision requiring lead “clearance” testing for renovation projects and the adoption of an RRP program for public and commercial buildings.
“The combined cost of these two proposed rules will likely exceed $1 billion, which AAMA argues will have devastating results for an already struggling construction/renovation industry revival,” the association said.
"Home renovators who have paid for the required EPA training and certification credentials and who comply with the costly LRRP procedures continue to compete with non-compliant renovators who do not carry the same cost burdens,” Walker said. “To avoid the additional costs of utilizing compliant contractors, homeowners are increasingly turning toward their non-compliant counterparts or conducting home renovations themselves, leading to an increased use of unsafe work practices.
“A lack of any substantive outreach campaign to homeowners, coupled with the EPA's inability to properly monitor an estimated 7 million workers participating in the construction industry, continues to impede any modification on home repairs to ensure the safety of children and pregnant women,” Walker said.
The full AAMA announcement can be read at AAMA Reiterates Call for Review of RRP Rules.