RRP Amendment Introduced in the Senate, Will Opt-Out Provision Return?
On March 6, 2013, Senator James Inhofe (R-Okla.) and six cosponsors reintroduced a bill in the Senate titled “The Lead Exposure Reduction Amendments Act of 2013 “ to help ease the burden of the LRRP Rule on Contractors and home owners, while at the same time would also protect pregnant women and small children from lead hazards. (See Senate bill sent to Congress here)
According to Inhofe’s web site The Lead Exposure Reduction Amendments Act of 2013 would accomplish the following:
- Restore the “opt-out provision” which would allow homeowners without small children or pregnant women residing in them to decide whether to require LRRP.
- Suspend the LRRP for homes without small children or pregnant women residing in them, if EPA cannot approve one or more commercially available test kits that meet the regulation's requirements.
- Prohibit EPA from expanding the LRRP to commercial and public buildings until EPA conducts a study demonstrating the need for such an action.
- Provide a de minimus exemption for first-time paperwork violations and provides for an exemption for renovations after a natural disaster.
- Eliminate the requirement that recertification training be "hands on," preventing remodelers having to travel to training facilities out of their region.
Good or Bad?
Many contractors have been looking to have the Opt-out Provision restored after it was removed in July 2010. Under the original RRP Rule, the Opt-out Provision granted homeowners the right to forego the use of the required RRP work practices if pregnant women or children under six did not live in the home. According to the EPA’s own math, removing the Opt-Out more than doubled the number of homes subject to the LRRP Rule, and is estimated to add more than $336 million per year in compliance costs to the regulated community, which includes homeowners. Also, without a test kit that can accurately test for the amount of lead present on a surface, many homes are assumed to have lead paint and homeowners are unnecessarily paying for RRP compliance because EPA assumed a test kit would magically appear by September of 2012. We are all still waiting and may be waiting for quite some time. Scientists I spoke with about this say creation of such a test kit is not impossible, just not achievable at an affordable price with current knowledge and technology.
Here are a few pull quotes regarding the amendment:
“Currently, the EPA requires contractors to follow extensive safety practices in a one-size fits all approach. Even if the home does not have lead paint or there is not an individual of the at-risk population residing in the home, contractors are required by the EPA to follow the LRRP safety measures which in turn dramatically increase the costs of renovation work. My bill would allow homeowners to opt out of the rule if the home does not place those in the at-risk population in direct harm of lead exposure. It would also require the EPA to develop working test kits to ensure that contractors have the ability to determine whether lead paint actually exists in project homes.”
U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.)
"While we support the goal of protecting pregnant women and small children from lead hazards, EPA's effort to expand the Lead Rule beyond its original intent, its aggressive pursuit of paperwork violations, and its failure to approve a lead test kit meeting its own rule has been an extreme burden on a residential market that is just starting to recover from the recession. We commend Senator Inhofe for his continuing leadership on this issue and will make the legislation a focus of our upcoming Legislative Conference in Washington."
NLBMDA chairman Chuck Bankston, president of Bankston Lumber in Barnesville, Ga
"The Inhofe bill is a common-sense response which will refocus efforts on protecting pregnant woman and small children and we applaud Senator Inhofe for his leadership on this issue."
WDMA President Michael O'Brien
(Read this RRPedia post for clarification regarding the legal definition of Lead paint and why the test kits currently recognized by EPA cannot be used to accurately determine if lead paint is present; based on how lead paint is defined by EPA)
In addition to Senator Inhofe, the cosponsors of the amendment include Senators Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), and David Vitter (R-La.).