Coatings Industry News

Main News Page

Bill Seeks to Revive Lead Rule Opt-Out

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Comment | More

Reinstating a homeowner's right to opt out of the federal lead rule for renovation, repair and painting is once again the target of new legislation.

Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK), senior member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, reintroduced the Lead Exposure Reduction Amendments Act of 2013 on March 6 to “improve” and “increase compliance” with the Environmental Protection Agency's Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule (RRP), according to Inhofe’s announcement.

NARI / DJ's Home Improvements Inc. (Franklin Square, NY)

Backers say the bill would reduce regulatory burdens on contractors and remodelers imposed by the Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule (RRP). Backers of the bill include homebuilder industry groups.

Inhofe first introduced the amendments in March 2012. In addition to reversing the EPA’s 2010 decision to remove the “opt-out” provision of the lead rule, the proposal seeks to prohibit expanding the rule to commercial and public projects until the EPA conducts a study demonstrating need.

“I am pleased to reintroduce this important bill that reduces the regulatory burdens placed on homebuilders and remodelers by the EPA,” Inhofe said.

“It is important that we take appropriate actions to protect vulnerable populations from the harmful effects of lead exposure, but it is imperative that these regulations are not unnecessarily burdensome and costly." 

Industry groups commended the reintroduction, saying the bill will make the lead-safe rule “more workable.”

‘Opt-Out’ Controversy

The RRP Rule, which went into effect in April 2010, mandates lead-safe certification and work practices for contractors performing renovation, repair and painting projects that disturb more than six feet of lead-based paint in most pre-1978 homes, child-care facilities and schools.

The new bill would reinstate an original provision of the rule that allowed homes without small children or pregnant women to waive RRP compliance, or opt out of the requirements.

Sen. Inhofe

Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) says he wants the opt-out provision of the rule reinstated.

EPA removed the opt-out provision in 2010 after environmental and children’s health-advocacy groups challenged it in court as part of a broader petition. The provision was removed in settling the suit.

No 'One Size Fits All' Approach

“Currently, the EPA requires contractors to follow extensive safety practices in a one-size-fits-all approach,” Inhofe said.

“Even if the home does not have lead paint or there is not an individual of the at-risk population residing in the home, contractors are required by the EPA to follow the LRRP safety measures, which, in turn, dramatically increase the costs of renovation work.

“My bill would allow homeowners to opt out of the rule if the home does not place those in the at-risk population in direct harm of lead exposure. It would also require the EPA to develop working test kits to ensure that contractors have the ability to determine whether lead paint actually exists in project homes.”  

The proposal would also suspend application of the rule for homes without small children or pregnant women  if EPA cannot approve one or more commercially available test kits that meet the regulation’s requirements.

Commercial and Public Expansion

Inhofe’s bill also seeks to prohibit EPA from expanding the RRP Rule to commercial and public buildings until EPA conducts a study demonstrating the need for such an action.

Some of that work is already underway. The EPA announced in September that it would delay the controversial expansion until July 1, 2015. The measure was originally set to take effect in February 2014.

Architect of the Capitol
Architect of the Capitol

Federal regulators are currently seeking more data regarding public and commercial projects that disturb lead-based paint. A restoration project on the U.S. Capitol Dome involved removing lead paint.

EPA is now is inviting comments on the proposed expansion. SSPC is also gathering input from its members to formulate the industry's response.

Commercial painters, remodelers and interested parties have until April 1 to voice opinions. The EPA plans to discuss the rule during a public meeting June 26. Details about the meeting will be published this spring in the Federal Register, EPA said.

For more information or to submit a comment, click here.

Other Amendments

The Lead Exposure Reduction Amendments Act of 2013 would also:

  • Provide an exemption for first-time paperwork violations and for renovations after a natural disaster; and
  • Eliminate the requirement that recertification training be “hands on,” preventing remodelers having to travel for training.

Co-sponsoring the legislation are Republican Sens. David Vitter (LA), Chuck Grassley (IA), Roy Blunt (MO), Deb Fischer (NE), Mike Enzi (WY) and Tom Coburn (OK).

Industry Support

The National Association Home Builders’ Remodelers division applauded the legislation.

The bill would not only “make the EPA’s lead paint rule more workable, but it will continue to protect pregnant women and small children against lead hazards,” said NAHB chairman Bill Shaw, a remodeler from Houston, TX.

Removing the “opt-out” provision more than doubled the number of homes subject to the rule and added $336 million per year in compliance costs to the remodeling industry “without making young children any safer,” Shaw said.

Another industry group pushing for the amendments is the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI).

“Homeowners have told us they want to be able to opt out of this provision if they do not have a child or pregnant woman living in their pre-1978 home,” said Dean Herriges, NARI National president and a remodeler from Mukwanago, WI.

“NARI members take their job as consumer advocate very seriously, and this is a choice homeowners want to have.”

In a 2011 NARI survey, a majority of homeowners agreed with the statement: “I want the option to opt-out of the EPA’s RRP regulations.”

Audit Targets Rule Cost

RRP rule costs and collections as well as those associated with EPA’s lead abatement program were criticized in a recent report by the EPA’s Office of Inspector General.

The audit found that program costs were exceeding collections to the tune of $16.4 million.

Among the reasons for the shortfall were lower-than-projected participation, the report said. EPA’s 2009 analysis projected the number of company certification applications at 212,000 for the rule's first year (2011) and 72,000 for the second year (2012).

However, actual certifications were 87,000 for year one and 13,000 for year two, the report said.

The report recommends that EPA update the fees it first set in 2009 to recover the program's costs. It also urged EPA to apply the program's indirect costs, as well as direct costs, to obtain the full cost of the program.


Tagged categories: Contractors; Government; Lead; Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule (LRRP); Maintenance + Renovation; Maintenance coating work; National Assoc. of the Remodeling Industry (NARI); National Association of Home Builders (NAHB); Painters; Renovation

Comment Join the Conversation:

Sign in to our community to add your comments.

KTA-Tator, Inc. - Corporate Office

Fischer Technology Inc.

Mitsubishi Gas Chemical America

ABKaelin, LLC

SAFE Systems, Inc.

DeFelsko Corporation

Tarps manufacturing, Inc.

NLB Corporation

Sauereisen, Inc.

Modern Safety Techniques


Technology Publishing Co., 1501 Reedsdale Street, Suite 2008, Pittsburgh, PA 15233

TEL 1-412-431-8300  • FAX  1-412-431-5428  •  EMAIL

The Technology Publishing Network

PaintSquare the Journal of Protective Coatings & Linings Paint BidTracker

EXPLORE:      JPCL   |   PaintSquare News   |   Interact   |   Buying Guides   |   Webinars   |   Resources   |   Classifieds
REGISTER AND SUBSCRIBE:      Free PaintSquare Registration   |   Subscribe to JPCL   |   Subscribe to PaintSquare News
MORE:      About   |   Privacy Policy   |   Terms & Conditions   |   Support   |   Site Map   |   Search   |   Contact Us