WASHINGTON—The National Lumber and Building Material Dealers Association (NLBMDA) welcomes reintroduction of legislation in the Senate reforming the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Lead: Renovation, Repair and Painting (RRP) Rule. The Lead Exposure Reduction Amendments Act (S. 1987) was introduced yesterday by Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Oklahoma) and would reduce the burdens of the rule on the home remodeling and retrofit market, while maintaining protections for pregnant women and young children from lead hazards. NLBMDA continues working with lawmakers in the House and Senate to scrutinize EPA’s implementation and enforcement of the rule.
In July 2010, the EPA removed the “opt-out provision” from the RRP rule that granted homeowners the right to forego the use of rigorous work practices if a pregnant woman or child under age six did not live in the home. Removing the opt-out provision increased the number of homes subject to the rule from 38 million to 79 million, and EPA estimates that it adds more than $336 million annually in compliance costs to the regulated community, including homeowners.
EPA has also failed to approve a commercially available test kit producing no more than 10 percent false positives, in violation of its own rules. The lack of EPA compliant test kits has even resulted in homeowners paying for unnecessary work because of false positive test results.
“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 Chairman J.D. Saunders, Vice President of Economy Lumber in Campbell, California. “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.”
Among its key provisions, the legislation would restore the “opt-out” clause, suspend the rule for owner-occupied housing built between 1960 and 1977 when a young child or pregnant woman does not live in the home (if EPA cannot approve a test kit meeting its own standard for false positives), 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.
In addition to Sen. Inhofe, the original cosponsors of the bill are Sens. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) and John Thune (R-South Dakota). Earlier this year, identical legislation (H.R. 2328) was introduced in the House of Representatives by Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-North Dakota).
NLBMDA has made passage of S. 1987 and H.R. 2328 a top legislative priority. Dealers are encouraged to go to NLBMDA’s Legislative Action Center to contact their Senators and Representative and ask them to cosponsor the bill.