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Trump's Budget Would Cut EPA Lead Programs

Monday, April 10, 2017

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Environmental Protection Agency officials are proposing to eliminate two programs that are focused on limiting children’s exposure to lead paint, according to an internal memo obtained by The Washington Post.

The memo proposed rolling back two programs, which would amount to cutting $16.6 million and more than 70 employees, in order to comply with orders from President Donald J. Trump’s administration that the EPA reduce its budget by 31 percent. Both programs help the majority of the country comply with rules regarding safely removing lead paint, which is known to cause damage to developing brains and nervous systems.

According to the Memo

One of the programs slated for termination is the Lead Risk Reduction Program, which requires professional remodelers to undergo safe-practice training before stripping lead paint. This program was set up under the Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting (RRP) rule in 2010.

© iStock.com / mrmarshall

One of the programs slated for termination is the Lead Risk Reduction Program, which requires professional remodelers to undergo safe-practice training before stripping lead paint. This program was set up under the Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting (RRP) rule in 2010.

This program is where the employee cuts and about $2.6 million of the budget cuts are stemming from. The other $14 million in cuts would slash the grants to state and tribal programs that also address lead-based paint.

The goal of cutting these two programs is to return “the responsibility for funding to state and local entities,” according to EPA spokesperson Julia Valentine in an email to The Post.


Many industry groups consider the federal programs, such as the Lead Risk Reduction Program, to be too strict and support giving control to individual states, such as the National Association of the Remodeling Industry.

The association’s chief executive, Fred Ulreich, said the group “believes that the program can be better run and enforcement can be more vigorous the closer it is to the local contractors.”

However, only 14 states currently have their own systems in place to train contractors in how to properly handle lead-paint removal (Alabama, Delaware, Georgia, Iowa, Kansas, Massachusetts, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, Utah, Washington and Wisconsin). The rest of the country relies on the two programs the EPA is proposing to cut.

© iStock.com / XiFotos

Only 14 states currently have their own systems in place to train contractors in how to properly handle lead-paint removal. The rest of the country relies on the two programs the EPA is proposing to cut.

That would leave a lot of people—primarily children—in danger of lead exposure.

“If the state doesn’t have a program, which is true in most states, and if the EPA doesn’t have a program, how are you going to have compliance with the lead rules?” asked Erik Olson, who directs the Natural Resources Defense Council’s health program. “Basically, this is the guts of the program that protects kids from lead poisoning from paint.”

What Now

After EPA’s senior staffers review the cuts and recommend how to proceed, the EPA will compile the final budget proposal and send it to the White House, which will then review it and send it to Congress. If approved, the cuts would take effect on Oct. 1, the start of the 2018 fiscal year.


Tagged categories: Budget; Environmental Protection Agency (EPA); Lead; Lead paint abatement; Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule (LRRP); Renovation

Comment from Robert Tinker, (4/10/2017, 9:52 AM)

The National Association of the Remodeling Industry - scumbags - yea, the states will do a better job. They haven't done anything to prevent lead poisoning in children, that's why we have a federal EPA. And why should some children be protected and others not??

Comment from Phil Kabza, (4/11/2017, 7:04 AM)

Corporations and national associations always find it easier to lobby and pressure state legislators, who are usually entry-level politicians. That's the background of the "let the states handle this" movement. Add some paid media commentary on "reducing the federal government" which always sounds good in theory, and you end up with the foxes running the hen house. The builders' associations continuously oppose any government actions that would add a nickel to the cost of the work, no matter what the long-term benefit is to consumers. You would think having more healthy consumers in the next generation would be seen by these organizations as in their enlightened self-interest, but they apparently do not look that far ahead.

Comment from Mark Anater, (4/11/2017, 8:13 AM)

In politics principle matters much less than results. Whichever venue will produce the result you want is the one you want to deal with. In this case builders want states to handle lead regulation because they figure states will be more lenient and less vigilant in enforcement. Public health organizations are furious that the EPA has these proposed cuts, but if states did step up and create training programs for contractors, they would quiet down.

Comment from Jesse Melton, (4/11/2017, 12:21 PM)

I'm a big advocate of government picking up the tab, or big chunks of it, when decisions they made about product safety turn out to have been wrong. Lead, asbestos, etc... Using industry supplied "best available data" is ok, but at the same time, if that data turns out to have been insufficient then those who used it are on the hook. I think the system of financial support is a good compromise. Barring outright deceit I don't think criminal charges are an answer.

The end result is that the costs go out of control. Using the labor hours and consumables expenses lead abatement for a residence costs 10x over what it should. I do not believe reducing the amount of funding for lead abatement programs will result in less lead abatement projects occurring. It'll just mean the excessively greedy specialist firms will lose interest in the work. Others will fill the space.

Comment from peter gibson, (4/11/2017, 4:58 PM)

That is great news...we have been sold this one for decades. Lead/asbestos...a huge racket that did not achieve anything. Please bring on much more deregulation of so-called Environmental Protection.The days of " feel -good " regulations is over.

Comment from Catherine Brooks of Eco-Strip, (4/17/2017, 8:24 AM)

"Feel good" may not happen if more of us become brain damaged from chemicals in our soil, water, and air.

Comment from M. Halliwell, (4/18/2017, 11:01 AM)

Peter, with the latency period for asbestosis, mesothelioma and lung cancer you won't see the results of asbestos abatement programs for some time. Considering locally it is the number one killer listed in my OHS publications (quietly published with death notices related to occupational exposure...but not hyped as workplace deaths because they weren't killed right then and there on the job like with falls, electrocutions, H2S exposure, etc), I look forward to seeing those deaths drop from our abatement efforts. Similar for lead...though less lethal in consequences. The unscrupulous make it into a "racket", but the work does have merit beyond just making people "feel good."

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