Senators Send Bipartisan Letter Urging EPA Action on Lead Rule
March 26, 2010

Contact:

Matt Dempsey Matt_Dempsey@epw.senate.gov (202) 224-9797

David Lungren David_Lungren@epw.senate.gov (202) 224-5642

Senators Send Bipartisan Letter Urging EPA Action on Lead Rule

Jobs, Health At Risk, As Thousands of Contractors Have Yet to Be Certified

Link to Letter

WASHINGTON, DC - Several United States Senators last night sent a bipartisan letter to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) urging OMB to ensure compliance with EPA's Lead: Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule. The Senators wrote, "We strongly urge OMB to take whatever actions necessary in the next 26 days to ensure that when this rule goes into effect, there are enough certified renovators available to meet the compliance goals of the rule."

Starting on April 22, 2010, renovation work that disturbs more than six square feet in target housing must be supervised by a certified renovator and performed by a certified renovation firm. In its economic analysis of the rule, EPA estimated that it would need to certify 236,000 renovators between April 2009 and April 2010. According to EPA, the agency has certified only 50,000 renovators, well below EPA's estimated 236,000 needed to meet the requirements of the rule.  Additionally there are several states-Oklahoma,  Louisiana, South Dakota, Wyoming, West Virginia--and the District of Columbia, which currently have no approved trainers.

U.S. Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works, joined Senators Mike Crapo (R- ID), David Vitter (R-LA), George  Voinovich (R-OH),  Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Chuck  Grassley (R-IA), Ron Wyden (D-OR), John Barrasso (R-WY), Christopher Bond (R-MO) and John Thune (R-SD) in signing the letter.

Background

The letter echoes concerns raised in recent letters sent to OMB from Senators Byron Dorgan (D-ND), Kent Conrad (D-ND), and a bipartisan group of members in the House of Representatives. Further, Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) urged EPA to come up with a solution that will ensure that contractors have the opportunity to come into compliance with this rule and that children's health is protected at a recent hearing of the EPW Subcommittee on Children's Health.

The issue has also been raised before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. In testimony before the committee on March 11, Bob Hanbury, speaking on behalf of the National Association of Homebuilders, raised concerns about "potential conflicts between Home Star and an environmental rule - e.g., the EPA's Lead: Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule (LRRP) - that may create a serious compliance problem whereby it becomes illegal to work on any pre-1978 without certification by EPA in Lead Safe Work Practices (LSWP) as of April 22, 2010."

The construction and renovation industry has lost nearly 2 million jobs since the recession started.  Unemployment in construction and renovation jumped to 24.7 percent, more than double the national rate of 9.7 percent.  The sector is expecting that another 5 percent of construction workers will lose their jobs in 2010.  Currently, EPA has only 184 accredited training providers and 50,000 certified renovators nationwide.  EPA believes it can train 100,000 renovators by the April deadline-this is less than half of the required 236,000, well short of what's needed to carry out millions of renovations annually.  In addition, EPA has stated that the certification process takes six weeks or more to complete.  Industry estimates that over 200,000 renovators still need to be certified before the April 22, 2010 deadline.

In addition to last night's letter, Senators Inhofe and Vitter have sent letters (here) and (here) to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson regarding the pace at which EPA was certifying trainers and training facilities. 

Text of the letter:

We are writing today to express our concerns about the impending April 22, 2010 deadline for implementing EPA's "Lead: Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule."  Starting on April 22, 2010, renovation work that disturbs more than six square feet in target housing must be supervised by a certified renovator and performed by a certified renovation firm, as outlined in 40 CFR § 745.85.

EPA, in its economic analysis of the rule, estimated that it would need to certify 236,000 renovators between April 2009 and April 2010, with another 94,000 renovators between April 2010 and April 2012. According to EPA they have certified only 50,000 renovators, well below EPA's estimated 236,000 needed to meet the requirements of the rule. The National Center for Healthy Housing estimated that it is taking EPA nearly eight weeks to certify trainers, and currently has only 184 certified training providers. In order to meet the compliance goals of the rule, many more training providers and training sessions are needed. Additionally there are several states-- Louisiana, South Dakota, Wyoming, West Virginia-- and the District of Columbia, which currently have no approved trainers.

We believe the new lead rule can only work if there are enough certified renovators to meet the rule's compliance goals. We strongly urge OMB to take whatever actions necessary in the next 26 days to ensure that when this rule goes into effect, there are enough certified renovators available to meet the compliance goals of the rule. These actions could include ensuring EPA has enough resources devoted to compliance assistance, speeding up the turnaround time for approving trainers, expediting public awareness and media campaigns and, if necessary, delaying the rule's implementation or phasing in the rule in areas where there are adequate certified renovators.

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