WDDA Urges Regulators to Stop Additional RRP Rules

May 16, 2011

Representatives of the Window & Door Dealers Alliance urged White House officials today to block the Environmental Protection Agency from adding new lead clearance test requirements to its Renovation, Repair and Painting program rules. Meeting with officials from the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, which has oversight over new federal regulations, the WDDA members detailed the already high costs of existing RRP rules and questioned whether they were having their intended effects of reducing exposure to lead.

The existing lead regulations add between $1,200 to $1,600 in cost to the window replacement jobs his firm does, Jim Lett, president of A.B.E. Doors & Windows in Allentown, Pa., told OIRA officials.  The additional costs of lead safe work practices have produced a 41 percent decline in window sales volume since the existing rules went into effect last April, he estimated for officials. The proposed lead clearance tests would add another $500 to those costs, reducing business further. 

Emphasizing that he doesn't mind "playing by the rules," Lett attributed the decreased business to homeowners hiring unscrupulous contractors, doing the work themselves or deciding they are not going to replace their windows. "All three of these scenarios subject the homeowners to a higher risk of lead poisoning. Adding more costs will only exacerbate the problem," he told officials.

 WDDA representatives at the Executive Office Building in Washington included, from left to right, David Walker, WDDA VP, Jim Lett, Charlie Dorsey, Beth Cantrell and David Sakin.

Sharing that view was David Sakin of Premier Window & Building in Owings Mills, Md. "I anticipate that if homeowners want to replace their windows on pre-1978 homes, they will seek out unlicensed contractors who are not certified. This would be a very unfortunate situation," he continued. "I do not understand how the third party verification would help protect the public if we have already been trained to detect the lead and are taking the proper steps to protect the homeowners."

"What I struggle with most is my understanding that this Administration is eager for homeowners to employ energy efficient measures such as window and door replacement to reduce energy consumption and lower our overall carbon footprint," added Beth Cantrell, president of Better Windows by Beth in Chantilly, Va. "But they've enacted onerous rules that are having the exact opposite effect."

She urged OIRA officials not only to stop implementation of the additional lead clearance requirements, but also suggested that the opt-out provisions of the initial EPA lead paint regulations should be re-instated. 

As a manufacturer serving dealers in 40 states, Gorell Window & Doors is hearing similar stories from around the country, reported Charlie Dorsey, regional sales manager for the Pennsylvania company.  Thanks to energy tax credits, 2010 was a strong year at his company and it had added jobs. Moving forward to 2011, however, the vinyl window manufactuer has realized a 15 percent to 20 percent reduction in orders, he continued. It has already laid off 50 workers added last year and is concerned about the added constraints that may come with a new set of imposed RRP rules.

"The added costs of compliance and implementation of the rule to our dealers has resulted in substantial increases in project costs to consumers," he said. "What has become evident is that many consumers are not willing to absorb the additional costs and in many cases they elect not to have the work done."

Before moving forward with additional lead tests that will add more costs, EPA should step back and study the effectiveness of what's in place already, Lett asserted to the OIRA representatives. "Let’s actively enforce the current regulations and go after firms that are not following them," he said. "Let’s not put any additional burden on the homeowners and small business community unless it can be proven that it is absolutely necessary."

"Certification and compliance to the rule has not been adequately achieved," Dorsey agreed. "How can we so quickly move to step number two?"

A final decision by EPA on the addition of lead clearance test requirements to the existing RRP regulations is expected sometime this summer.  Part of the White House Office of Management & Budget, OIRA will have to provide final approval of any EPA action. "We found the OIRA staff engaged, though non-committal," noted Premier's Sakin. "We'll now have to see how they evaluate what we proposed. The clock is ticking."