Senate Bill Would Pare Back LRRP Rule

March 2, 2012
Government

Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) has introduced a new bill that would restore the opt-out provision to the Lead Repair, Remodel and Paint rules established by Environmental Protection Agency. The legislation would also allow remodelers to correct paperwork errors without facing full penalties, provide an exemption for emergency renovations, and eliminate requirements for "hands-on" recertification training.

The Lead Exposure Reduction Amendments Act of 2012 (S. 2148) is being welcomed by industry groups, including the National Association of Home Builders Remodelers' Council. "We applaud Sen. Inhofe and his colleagues for sponsoring this bill to make much-needed improvements to EPA's lead paint rule during this busy time in Congress," says George "Geep" Moore Jr., a Louisana remodeler and NAHB Remodelers chairman. "If this effort is successful, it will reduce the regulatory burden for remodelers facing costly penalties for first-time violations like misfiled paperwork and allow homeowners to make the final decision about renovations in their homes."

“Since the EPA Lead Rule took effect in April 2010, EPA has expanded the rule beyond its original goal of protecting pregnant women and small children while mismanaging the implementation of the rule and failing to meet its own requirements to produce an accurate test kit,” says Michael O'Brien, WDMA president. “This legislation is a common-sense response which will refocus efforts on protecting pregnant women and small children and we applaud Sen. Inhofe for his leadership on this issue.”

"Senator Inhofe has remained a steadfast industry ally in the fight to reinstate the opt-out provision," adds David Walker, VP of the Window & Door Dealers Alliance. "His bill safeguards the classes of individuals subject to any lead poisoning risk, while at the same time removing the troubling constraints and added costs on small business owners. We are encouraged by the broadening Congressional support and will work with him and colleagues in Congress to secure its passage."

EPA's LRRP rule applies to homes built before 1978 and requires renovator training and certification, adherence to lead-safe work practices, containing and cleaning dust and record keeping. Originally, the rule included an opt-out provision to allow homeowners without small children or pregnant women residing in the home to decide whether a remodeling or renovation project would require LRRP compliance. In July 2010, EPA eliminated the opt-out provisions. The change, according to NAHB, more than doubled the number of homes subject to the LRRP rule and added an estimated $336 million per year in compliance costs to the remodeling community-without making young children any safer.

"We need to concentrate our efforts on helping the families that this law was designed to protect," explains NAHB's Moore. "We support the intent of the lead paint rule to prevent childhood lead poisoning and believe that the provisions in this bill will encourage greater compliance by homeowners. Common sense exemptions for emergency renovations and online recertification training are necessary improvements for remodelers and homeowners to fully comply with the rule."

“The window and door retrofit market has been key to sustaining the industry and preserving jobs during the prolonged housing downturn,"
WDMA's O'Brien adds. "EPA’s efforts to expand the Lead Rule beyond its original scope, inaccurate test kits, and enforcement actions targeted mainly at certified renovators has only hindered industry recovery efforts.”

Inhofe's bill was introduced with five original co-sponsors: Sens. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), David Vitter (R-La.), Michael Enzi (R-Wyo.), Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) and Roy Blunt (R-Mo.). The introduction of companion legislation is being sought in the House of Representatives, NAHB reports.