Trade associations continue to challenge the new federal lead-safe work rule almost five weeks after implementation, with one group seeking congressional relief and another lambasting the rule’s ad campaign.
Representatives of the American Architectural Manufacturers Association (AAMA), the Northeast Window and Door Association, and several Delaware window makers and dealers met May 20 with U.S. Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) and the Environmental Protection Agency. Carper is a member of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works.
The opponents sought support for legislation that would suspend the rule for a year: H.R. 5177, introduced April 29 by Rep. Dennis Rehberg (R-Mont.). The bill has seen no action since introduction. The opponents also requested public hearings on the issue.
Carper staffers said they “found the meeting and the information helpful,” according to a spokeswoman. The EPA had no comment.
The EPA’s “Lead-safe Renovation, Repairs and Painting” rule requires lead-safe certification of renovators and companies that disturb six square feet of interior paint in a home, school or day care center built before 1978.
Although the rule had a two-year phase-in, the AAMA and NWDA join a chorus of industry associations and retailers who say the approximately 250,000 contractors affected were not given enough time to prepare. (EPA says that more than 230,000 contractors had been certified as of May 7.)
Opponents are especially angry about the EPA’s decision to immediately tighten the rule by removing the ability of affected homeowners to allow their personal contractor to opt out of the requirements. That amendment is set to take effect July 6.
The opt-out defenders cite a November 2009 analysis by the U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Office of Advocacy that favored keeping the option. Eliminating the opt-out would increase the cost for regulated businesses to $1.3 billion from $800 million in the first year alone, the Office of Advocacy said in a letter to EPA.
“Advocacy opposes the expansion of this expensive rule to extend to dwellings of persons above the age of six (including non-pregnant women),” the agency wrote. “This proposed change would almost double the cost of the current rule, without any serious examination of whether there will be additional benefits due to the expansion of this regulation.”
SBA said the amendment could be modified to retain its benefits. It also accused EPA of parceling out the lead rule incrementally, so as to make the hefty total cost appear lower.
EPA has remained steadfast on the rule and, in fact, is now proposing to expand it to commercial and public projects. The agency says the efforts are critical to ensuring children’s health.
Meanwhile, paint manufacturers are furious about the EPA’s ongoing public-awareness campaign, which targets parents and caregivers in order to increase compliance.
In a letter May 20 to members, American Coatings Association president Andy Doyle said the EPA’s campaign was “dangerously misleading” and “wholly misrepresent[s] the coatings industry and its products.”
“Instead of focusing on proper work practices, including the hiring of a qualified contractor or educating consumers, the campaign includes public service announcements (PSAs) that wrongly and unfairly imply that paint currently contains lead,” Doyle wrote.
“In addition, the visual depictions of the industry's products being poured onto cereal or into ‘sippy cups’ or baby bottles are completely inappropriate, as these products have never been intended to be ingested or used in this manner. The use of such visuals is completely without merit and improper.”
Doyle repeated those criticisms that day in a letter to the Coalition to End Childhood Lead Poisoning, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in partnership with the Ad Council.
The letter requested that all of the parties immediately cease using the PSAs and remove them from their websites, but the ads remain.