Washington D.C.-Senator James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, welcomed an announcement made today by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that current lead-safe work practices and clean up requirements will protect people from lead dust hazards and it is not necessary to impose lead-dust clearance testing requirements in the Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule (LRRP).
EPA's decision addresses the concerns voiced in an April 15 letter to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson in which Senator Inhofe, along with eleven other senators, expressed deep concerns about the Agency's proposed amendments to LRRP, which would have required "clearance testing" to prove the presence or absence of lead following a project's completion. These additional requirements would have created confusion and complications for renovators who have already completed their lead-based paint training and imposed significant additional costs.
While Senator Inhofe supports the intent of the rule, which is to protect pregnant women and children from lead dust hazards, he has been a staunch critic of EPA's implementation. On April 22, 2010, LRRP went into effect even though EPA only had 204 training providers nationwide. This meant that contractors did not have enough access to the training programs required to achieve compliance with the rule. In response, Senator Inhofe and Senator Collins introduced an amendment to the supplemental appropriations bill, which blocks funds from being used to "levy against any person any fine, or to hold any person liable for construction or renovation work performed by the person." The amendment, which passed by a vote of 60 to 37, sent a clear bipartisan message to the EPA that it must alleviate the widespread confusion over the rule's implementation. By May 2010, EPA announced a memorandum extending the LRRP deadline for renovators to enroll in training classes to September 30, 2010; it also extended the deadline for contractors to complete training to December 31, 2010. Most importantly, the Agency agreed to work to provide additional trainers in areas of need.
Senator Inhofe: "I am pleased that common-sense has once again prevailed at the EPA regarding the lead-based paint rule. The intent of the rule, public health protection especially for children and pregnant women, is something everyone supports, but it needs to happen in a way that does not place costly or confusing burdens on those trying to implement it. I applaud the Agency for responding to our concerns and making the right decision, which will provide maximum benefits for all. "
Senator Snowe: "Today's ruling is a major victory for small business owners nationwide saddled with needlessly onerous regulations that are stifling their ability to grow and prosper during these difficult economic times. As we learned during its initial implementation back in 2009, this well-intentioned effort to protect pregnant women and children from lead exposure presented significant unintended consequences and undue burdens for renovators and homeowners alike. It is essential that agencies account for the impact new federal regulations will have on the economy, families and small businesses before rules are promulgated. I am pleased that, in this instance, EPA has withdrawn a proposed regulation deemed unnecessary and urge the agency to continue its stringent evaluations to mitigate the effects of rules that impose government costs and burdens where they are not necessary."
Senator Alexander: "As Tennesseans paint, remodel, and repair their homes, especially those affected by this summer's bad storms, I'm pleased that the EPA is doing what I urged them to do in deciding against adding to homeowners' burdens all this unnecessary, complicated and costly testing."