Washington, D.C. - Senator James Inhofe (R-OK), Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, today introduced the Lead Exposure Reduction Amendments Act of 2012 (S.2148), legislation that improves the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule (LRRP) in order to increase compliance. Senators David Vitter (R-LA), Tom Coburn (R-OK), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Roy Blunt (R-MO), and Mike Enzi (R-WY) are cosponsors of this bill.
"I am pleased to introduce an important bill which will ensure that EPA's Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule (LRRP) is workable so that everyone can comply and we are providing the intended health benefits," Senator Inhofe said. "I have always supported the intent of LRRP, which is to protect children and pregnant women from lead exposure, but EPA's implementation of the rule has long been botched and in need of a legislative fix. Today we have a bill that will make sure that those who are most vulnerable to lead exposure receive the full health protections of this rule.
"This legislation is the latest effort in a series of improvements my colleagues and I have been able to secure for LRRP, and I look forward to working with them to pass a bill that is sure to have bipartisan support."
The Lead Exposure Reduction Amendments Act of 2012
- Restores the "Opt-Out Provision" which would allow homeowners without small children or pregnant women residing in them to decide whether to require LRRP.
- Suspends the LRRP for homes without small children or pregnant women residing in them, if EPA cannot approve one or more commercially available test kits that meet the regulation's requirements.
- Prohibits EPA from expanding the LRRP to commercial and public buildings until EPA conducts a study demonstrating the need for such an action.
- Provides a de minimus exemption for first-time paperwork violations and provides for an exemption for renovations after a natural disaster.
- Eliminates the requirement that recertification training be "hands on," preventing remodelers having to travel to training facilities out of their region.
EPA's Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule has had problems since its 2010 implementation. The rule that applies to all pre-1978 homes requires renovation work that disturbs more than six square feet on the interior of a pre-1978 home and all window and door replacement to follow rigorous work practices supervised by an EPA-certified renovator and performed by an EPA-certified renovation firm. Since then, the Senate has lead some very successful efforts to help make the rule work better - by allowing more time for contractors to get trained, by questioning additions EPA has sought to make to the rule and providing oversight.
On July 6, 2010, EPA removed the "Opt-Out Provision" from the rule which allowed homeowners without children under six or pregnant women residing in the home to allow their contractor to forego the use of lead-safe work practices. By removing the opt-out provision, EPA more than doubled the number of homes subject to the LRRP Rule, and EPA has estimated that this added more than $336 million per year in compliance costs to the regulated community. However, the costs are far greater because of EPA's economic analysis significantly underestimated the true compliance costs.
EPA has also failed to meet the requirements of its own rule by failing to approve a more accurate lead test kit. Current test kits can produce up to 60 percent false positives, meaning that in many cases, consumers are needlessly paying additional costs for work practices that are not needed and provide no benefit, but must be employed because of false positive test results. EPA's initial estimates stated that an improved test kit would reduce the rule's cost by $400 million a year. In addition, EPA stated in its rulemaking that "if the improved test kits are not commercially available by September 2010, EPA will initiate a rulemaking to extend the effective date of this final rule for 1 year with respect to owner-occupied target housing built after 1960." EPA has not done this.
EPA has also begun the process of extending the LRRP Rule to commercial and public buildings through an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking-even though Congress only granted EPA authority to issue guidelines for work practices applicable to RRP activities unless the agency engages in a study of renovation in commercial and public buildings.