Opening Thoughts from the President and CEOMarch 30, 2012
Rich Walker, AAMA President and CEO
Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) recently introduced the Lead Exposure Reduction Amendments Act of 2012 that seeks to restore the “Opt-Out” provision within the EPA’s Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting (LRRP) rule. Consideration of restoring the “Opt-Out” provision is long overdue, and it is incredibly disappointing that an overreach of regulations has stifled energy-efficient window replacements and job recovery for nearly two years.
The “Opt-Out” provision, included in the original LRRP rule published in April 2008, allows homeowners without children under age 6 and/or pregnant women (those deemed by the EPA to comprise the “at-risk population”) to conduct renovations without the increased cost of LRRP compliance. Renovation firms are also not required under the provision to receive certification for residences where no one from the at-risk population resides, saving contractors both time and money.
However, in deference to industry and Small Business Advocacy Council concerns, the EPA quickly chose to settle lawsuits from environmental activist organizations by agreeing to remove the “Opt-Out” provision within two years.
Then, in April 2010, the EPA issued the amended LRRP rule, which currently requires all renovations conducted on pre-1978 homes to follow LRRP compliance methods. The EPA’s justification for removing the “Opt-Out” provision is outlined in a 66-page document that cites factors such as family pet exposures, visiting children and fundamental lack of knowledge of the risks by homeowners.
By removing the provision, the EPA expanded the LRRP rule to 40 million homes (out of 78 million pre-1978 homes) where at-risk children and pregnant women do not reside. In turn, many contractors took one look at the onerous LRRP requirements and mandatory use of lead test detection kits, which do not meet EPA’s own required standards, and simply walked away from window replacement jobs in an already downtrodden economy. And now, many contractors who do follow LRRP regulations are put at a competitive disadvantage.
EPA’s lax enforcement of LRRP rules allows contractors, who don’t obtain proper certification, to receive minimal penalties, if any, as reported fines for rule violators have been few. This leaves little advantage for companies to spend time and money on adhering to LRRP rules.
All involved parties agree that it is necessary to protect the primary at-risk population, and now is the time our elected representatives carry the torch for their constituents. The Lead Exposure Reduction Amendments Act of 2012 will not only offer protection for those who are at the greatest risk for lead poisoning but will allow the rebuilding industry and homeowners to conduct renovations without unnecessary costs of LRRP compliance.
AAMA commends Senator Inhofe and his colleagues for sponsoring the Lead Exposure Reduction Amendments Act of 2012 and pushing for the reinstitution of the “Opt-Out” provision.