E&E News: Senate Republicans lobby White House on paint rule
April 28, 2011
Posted by Matt Dempsey Matt_Dempsey@epw.senate.gov
In the News...
Senate Republicans lobby White House on paint rule
By Jeremy P. Jacobs, E&E reporter
April 28, 2011
Senate Republicans urged the Obama administration yesterday to reconsider U.S. EPA's implementation plan for a new lead-based paint rule.
In a letter to the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma led a group of Republicans in criticizing proposed amendments to EPA's Lead: Renovation, Repair and Painting (LRRP) rule.
The original rule took effect last April and requires housing contractors to obtain certification in lead-safe work practices before renovating properties built before 1978, when lead was banned from use in residences (Greenwire, April 23).
EPA sent the proposed amendments to OIRA for review last week. One of those amendments requires "clearance testing" following renovations to ensure lead is not present in homes.
Inhofe, the ranking member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, called that requirement a "dramatic change to the program" that "will amplify the unintended consequences we have heard from our constituents: that the higher costs from current LRRP renovators have pushed homeowners to either hire uncertified individuals or to perform renovation work themselves."
That, the Oklahoman wrote, runs "counter to the intent of the rule, which is to protect people from the potential dangers of lead dust."
Lead poses health risks to the central nervous system, particularly in children. Despite the government ban, lead is present in millions of homes built before 1978.
Despite supporting the original intent of the lead rule, Inhofe has been a frequent critic of how EPA has gone about implementing it. Last week, Inhofe and other Republican senators sent EPA two letters criticizing the new amendments. Inhofe also called for the Environment and Public Works Committee to hold hearings on the regulations (Greenwire, April 19).
EPA has not responded to last week's letters, Inhofe's office said.
Inhofe and the Republicans also took issue with how EPA implemented the original rule. That led to a vote on a measure that would have temporarily blocked EPA from using funds to fine contractors that were not in compliance with the new rule. The measure passed the Senate with 60 votes.
In the letter to the White House, the Republicans say they "remain concerned that this amendment will have the unintended consequence of driving people away from using LRRP certified renovators and missing the clear health benefits that come from employing LRRP renovators."
The letter's signees are Inhofe and Republicans Susan Collins of Maine, David Vitter of Louisiana, Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, Chuck Grassley of Iowa, John Hoeven of North Dakota, Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, Roy Blunt of Missouri, Michael Enzi and John Barrasso of Wyoming, and Mike Johanns of Nebraska.