Are Special Interest Groups Directing RRP?

Our industry continues to wrestle with RRP compliance, keep up with new RRP regulations, and hold a collective breath about RRP expansion to commercial and public buildings. At times, we have all asked ourselves, "who is writing these requirements and have they ever done our job?" To some, it appears that coalitions of special interest groups are directing the RRP agenda.  And to many of us, these special interest groups do not seem to have any background in construction or renovation. What Led to Opt-Out Removal? The Opt-Out provision was removed as a court settlement agreement (August 2009) that was the result of a lawsuit against the EPA.  The lawsuit was filed by a group of special interest groups:  the Sierra Club, , the Center for Environmental HealthNew York City Coalition to End Lead Poisoning (NYCCELP), Northern Manhattan Improvement Corporation,, New York Public Interest Research Group, and Make the Road New York. We are all very familiar with the Sierra Club, an organization that describes itself as "America's largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization" that is comprised of "1.4 million of your friends and neighbors, working together to protect our communities and the planet."  It is not easy to find who is financially supporting the Sierra Club, but according to a third party organization that tracks non-profit groups, its budget in 2004 was $91 million. The Center for Environmental Health, based in Oakland, Calif.,  "protects people from toxic chemicals and promotes business products/practices that are safe for public health and the environment." Among its accomplishments noted in its latest annual report, (2008) it was active in fighting lead in drinking water, diaper bags, Hannah Montana gear, artificial turf, and children's jewelry. New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG) is New York's largest student-directed research and advocacy organization.  It  has 20 college campus chapters that they claim provide "much of our energy, resources, and activism." The New York City Coalition to End Lead Poisoning (NYCCELP) appears to be defunct.  Internet searches provide a link to a website that is unformatted and contains no contact information, phone number or address.  The one-page, text-only site is hosted by the Northern Manhattan Improvement Corporation (NMIC).  The only phone number we could find (on another website) was the NMIC phone number. The group is not listed on the NMIC list of affiliations and partners, although there are at least 22 government agencies listed as partners. The Northern Manhattan Improvement Corporation (NMIC) services the Northern Manhattan neighborhoods of New York City.  Its mission is to "serve as a catalyst for positive change in the lives of the people in our community on their paths to secure, violence-free and prosperous futures."  The Corporation employs over 200, and has an annual budget of over $12 million, of which 77% is from federal, state, and city funding. Make the Road New York has sites in Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island, New York.  Its mission is to promote economic justice, equity and opportunity. In 2008, its budget was $5.8 million dollars with 81 employees. Consider this: These groups, primarily located in the New York City area and none of which seem connected to our industry, were able to effect legislation that impacts an entire industry that is national in scope. What Threatens HR 2584 Passage? (Defunding RRP Until Reliable Kits Produced) As we review the White House administration's comments on HR 2584, (containing a provision to defund RRP until a reliable test kit can be developed), we take note of  the National Center for Healthy Housing's lobbying effort in regards to RRP  and its actions to defeat HR 2584. The NCHH is funded by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, HUD and EPA, along with other donors such as NeighborWorks America, the Wachovia Foundation, and The California Endowment.  If you were being funded by the EPA, wouldn't you also work to keep all its funding in place? What Will Bring Us Commerical Expansion? The next anticipated rule change (due December 2011) will address RRP expansion into commercial and public buildings.  This adjustment to the RRP Rule is also a result of the Sierra Club, et. al. settlement in its lawsuit against EPA, as described above in regards to the "opt-out" provision. As we review these three developments in RRP and evaluate the number of special interest groups represented individually or as part of a coalition, we take note that it appears none of them have any working knowledge of the building trades. The question: how can they understand the work of a renovator? Accordingly, as an industry, we must continue to raise our collective voices to explain how a good idea to protect children from physical harm can be implemented in a way that achieves that result, but not bankrupt our business in the process.

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