Concerned About RRP Expansion? You've Got Friends in DC

EPA has agreed to expand several facets of RRP due to a legal settlement of a lawsuit brought by six special interest groups.  The groups claimed the original residential RRP did not go far enough in protecting the public health. As reported in our previous posting "Around the Corner, RRP Expansion to Commercial Buildings," two key components of this agreement are additional "clearance testing" requirements and the expansion of RRP to all pre-1978 commercial and public buildings. For those concerned about the RRP expansion, you have some friends in Washington, D.C.  On Friday, April 15, 2011, U.S. Senator James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, called for EPW Committee oversight hearings on EPA’s Lead-Based Paint rule. Sen. Inhofe joined several Senators who sent letters to the EPA identifying problems with the aspects of the EPA settlement agreement, including the "clearance testing" change to take effect in July of this year, and the expansion of RRP to all pre-1978 buildings. The letter questioning the need for "clearance testing" notes that the requirement "will likely impose significant confusion and complication for renovators and remodelers who have already completed their LRRP training" and "result in additional costs for homeowners and renovators to pay for the clearance testings." The senators note that the new requirement is "a clear violation of congressional intent under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA)" as renovation and abatement activity are separate and governed by different sections of the TSCA. Lastly, they note that this requirement will make renovators liable for existing lead in the home. The letter to the EPA questions: Where is the additional data regarding LRRP and health data to justify expansion? What authority does the EPA have under TSCA to require remodelers to use clearance testing or dust wipe testing? None of the "next generation" of testing kits have been approved.  Given the unavailability of new testing kits, and the higher number of jobs that require lead safe work practices, will the EPA revised its economic analysis of the rule? In a second letter, senators also questioned the expansion of LRRP to all pre-1978 commercial and public buildings.  They note insufficient data to support the expansion and a lack of understanding about the activities in these buildings that would affect lead levels. It is pointed out that: EPA recognized in 2010 the "scarcity of data related to dust exposures in public and commercial buildings and other non-residential settings" and after extensive research, "revealed relatively little information concerning typical levels of floor and window sill dust lead in public and commercial buildings." EPA seems to believe it can easily apply what it has done under  residential LRRP to commercial buildings, without consideration that homeowners may renovate every 10 years, but commercial properties are renovating continuously. Senator Inhofe summarizes by stating, "EPA’s latest proposal governing how renovators and remodelers handle lead-based paint is impractical, confusing, costly, and not based on the best available science.” He continues, “Once again, EPA is fumbling implementation of this rule, to the point that it will cost jobs and fall far short of fully realizing the rule’s laudable public health goals." Sen. Inhofe is calling for oversight hearings to explore this subject and ensure that the public health goals are being met.  You can contact Sen. Inhofe by emailing or call one of his senate offices.