Tulsa World: EPA paint policy foes take fight to second agency
May 2, 2011
Posted by Matt Dempsey Matt_Dempsey@epw.senate.gov
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EPA paint policy foes take fight to second agency
By JIM MYERS World Washington Bureau
WASHINGTON - Ignored by one agency, a group of U.S. senators led by Oklahoma Republican Jim Inhofe has contacted a second agency about its concerns that a lead paint proposal could backfire and weaken protections for children and pregnant women.
Inhofe and the 10 other Republicans, including Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, have appealed to an agency within the Office of Management and Budget, which they believe received the lead paint proposal from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for approval.
At issue is the EPA's proposed change to require "clearance testing'' to prove the presence or absence of lead following a home renovation project.
Describing the clearance testing as a dramatic change to the existing program on lead paint, the senators expressed concerns that the testing requirement would push homeowners to either hire uncertified individuals for a renovation project or do it themselves.
"These outcomes run counter to the intent of the rule, which is to protect people from the potential dangers of lead dust,'' they state in their letter.
The group also expressed concern that the EPA proposal not only violates congressional intent on separating renovation projections from abatement activity but also its own regulatory approach.
Questioning the EPA's conclusion on the economic impact of its action, the senators also stated that none of the "next generation'' test kits included in the EPA's analysis of the rule has been approved.
Inhofe spokesman Matt Dempsey said the senators also are concerned that the EPA's proposal could leave homeowners on the hook if the clearance test indicates the presence of lead after a renovation project is completed.
"They would have to have someone come out and remove the lead," Dempsey said, adding that it could mean hiring yet another contractor.
The EPA, which earlier said it planned on responding to the senators' previous letter on the lead paint matter, did not respond to questions Friday.
In its past responses to criticism over the way it has handled the lead paint issue, the agency has cited significant health risks posed by lead-based paint, especially for children living in pre-1978 housing.