Matt Dempsey Matt_Dempsey@epw.senate.gov (202) 224-9797 (Inhofe)
David Lungren David_Lungren@epw.senate.gov (202) 224-5642 (Inhofe)
EPA AGREES TO SENATORS' REQUEST TO ALLOW SMALL CONTRACTORS ADDITIONAL TIME TO COMPLY WITH NEW EPA LEAD PAINT RULE
Contractors faced hefty fines despite EPA's lack of accredited trainers
WASHINGTON, D.C.- Small contractors around the country will now have more time to comply with new Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) lead paint abatement regulations as a result of the efforts of Senators Susan Collins (R-Maine), Lamar Alexander (R-Tennessee), Jim Inhofe (R-Oklahoma) and Tom Coburn (R-Oklahoma). Last month, these Senators led a successful effort to amend the Fiscal Year 2010 Emergency Supplemental Appropriations bill to provide contractors with more time to receive mandated training in order to avoid onerous fines.
The rule, called "Lead: Renovation, Repair and Paint Rule," went into effect April 22, 2010. It requires that contractors who perform work in homes built before 1978 be EPA certified or face fines up to $37,500 per violation per day. Unfortunately, in most states, there are not enough certified trainers to educate contractors about these new requirements. For example, there is just one trainer in Oklahoma and three in the entire state of Maine, as well as three in Tennessee where the rule could slow down recovery from its recent flooding disaster.
Today, EPA responded to the Senate's action by issuing a memorandum extending the deadline for renovators to enroll in training classes to September 30, 2010. In addition, it has extended the deadline for contractors to complete the training to December 31, 2010, and the agency has agreed to work to provide additional trainers in areas of need.
"There is no question that we must continue our efforts to rid lead-based paint from our homes. Maine children are at particularly high risk for lead poisoning because more than 60 percent of our state's homes were built before lead-based paint was banned in 1978," said Senator Collins. "I appreciate that the EPA recognizes that it must boost the number of certified trainers in each state and that small contractors need more time to comply with EPA's rule.
Senator Alexander: "Tens of thousands of Tennesseans are rebuilding their homes after the worst natural disaster since President Obama took office, so I'm glad the EPA has listened and provided more time and resources for contractors to comply with the lead-paint rule to protect children from lead paint," Senator Alexander said. "In Nashville alone, there are 13,000 painters, plumbers and carpenters who have over 11,000 structures to fix that may be affected by the lead-paint rule, and today's EPA decision means they can go to work without worrying about the threat of a $37,500-per-day fine as they help Tennesseans get back on their feet after last month's historic flooding."
Senator Inhofe: "I am pleased that the EPA listened to the clear bipartisan message sent by the Senate that the implementation of the lead-based paint rule was a disaster. EPA has finally recognized the extreme difficulty in obtaining firm certification and worker renovation training. Thanks to the efforts of my colleagues, EPA has now promised to allow additional and sufficient time for workers to obtain the necessary training and certification to comply with the rule. This is exactly the kind of oversight and accountability that Congress should provide. I am pleased to have worked with Senators Collins, Alexander, Vitter, Coburn and others to shine light on the important issue. I will continue to work with my colleagues and the EPA to ensure that we get this rule fully implemented as soon as possible and realize the health benefits of the rule as quickly as possible."
Senator Coburn said, "I'm pleased the EPA accepted a more reasonable deadline. In this case, the good intentions of the EPA once again did not line up with reality. Homeowners and contractors in Oklahoma and across the country were struggling to understand and implement this new rule. This is a common sense step in the right direction."
Kevin Kelley (Collins) 202-224-2523
Jim Jeffries (Alexander) 202-224-7154
John Hart (Coburn) 202-224-5754