Is EPA Not Listening Or In Denial About The Effects of RRP Rule?
Remodelers across the country have been complaining about the additional costs related to the EPA RRP rule. As predicted by many trade groups and individual commenters during the comment period before the rule was promulgated, the additional costs to comply with the rule have created a significant pricing divide between those businesses complying with the rule and those that are not. As a result, and again as predicted by many commenters, this has lead to an increase in illegally performed renovations, as consumers, motivated by price, are ignoring the dangers of lead paint and opt to hire contractors who are not abiding by the rule. Under the rule, a renovator can be fined up to $37,500 for willful and knowing violations of the rule, and can even face jail time. Unfortunately, there is no legal consequence to a homeowner for hiring an illegally operating firm, even if the consumer is aware of the rule and its requirements.
Facts show that the EPA has, for the most part, ignored predictions, insight and feedback from the regulated community; both during the comment period before the rule was promulgated and since the rule took effect on April 22, 2010.
Here is an excerpt from the preamble of the final rule that demonstrates EPA’s disregard for the concerns of the businesses regulated by the RRP Rule:
“It is difficult to determine with any amount of certainty whether this final rule will have unintended consequences. However, EPA agrees that it is important to minimize disincentives for using certified renovation firms who follow the work practices required by this rule. EPA also agrees that practicality is an important consideration. Given the relatively low estimated overall average per-job cost of this final rule, which is $35, and the relatively easy-to-use work practices required by this final rule, EPA does not expect the incremental costs associated with this rule to be a determinative factor for consumers. However, that relatively low cost has resulted in part from EPA's efforts to contain the costs of this rule in order to avoid creating disincentives to using certified renovation firms, and EPA has viewed the comments received with those considerations in mind.”
It would seem from reading the above text that EPA did not listen to the many commenters who sited additional costs well beyond EPA’s estimated average additional cost of $35.00. The text also shows that the EPA rationalized that consumers would not be inclined to avoid working with a certified firm based on such a small price difference. Was their math wrong? Are they oblivious to the real costs reported by those doing the work now that the rule is in place? Have they done any research to determine if the rule has had any unintended consequences? Or, are they willfully ignoring the true realities and effects of the additional costs to comply?
In a recent article from NWTN Today, published on December 31, 2010, Steve Owens, Assistant Administrator of the Office of Prevention, Pesticides and Toxic Substances at the EPA offered the following. It certainly proves that despite evidence to the contrary, EPA is still not listening to the regulated community or is still in denial:
“Getting lead-safe certified is it the right thing to do for contractors, their customers, and their employees, and especially for the children who spend time near spaces that are being renovated,” said Owens. Owens says that the EPA is mindful of the small added costs that may result from complying with this important rule. To that end, he said the EPA is launching a consumer campaign designed to raise awareness of the dangers of lead paint poisoning, and encourage consumers to choose only contractors who are Lead-Safe Certified"
Don’t get me going about the “Small added costs” and that the EPA plans to “encourage” consumers to choose only contractors who are Lead-Safe Certified. Wouldn’t it have made sense and have helped those businesses complying with the rule to have done the outreach and education before and as the rule went into effect? Wouldn’t have made sense to “require” consumers choose only contractors who are Lead-Safe Certified?