The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced June 18 that it would delay enforcement of its Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting rule (RRP).

The controversial rule had become effective April 22, 2010 to the consternation of many industry associations including the Window and Door Manufacturers Association (WDMA), National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA) and others.

In a memo, Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator of EPA's Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance, acknowledged that "concerns have been raised by the regulated community regarding difficulties experienced in obtaining the rule required from certification and renovation worker training."

According to the WDMA,  EPA acknowledged the need for additional time for renovation firms and workers to become trained and certified under the rule.  The specific delays are:  

  • Until Oct. 1, 2010, EPA will not take enforcement action for violations of the RRP Rule's firm certification requirement.
  • For violations of the RRP Rule's renovation worker certification requirement, EPA will not enforce against individual renovation workers if the person has applied to enroll in or has enrolled in, by not later than Sept. 30, 2010, a certified renovator class to train contractors in practices necessary for compliance with the final rules.  Renovators must complete the training by Dec. 31, 2010.

The NAHB issued a press release "applauding" EPA's decision to delay Lead RRP rule enforcement. The association noted that "the issue came to a head in May after floods devastated parts of Tennessee and there weren't enough certified remodelers to complete much-needed home repairs."

"This rule potentially affects about 79 million homeowners," said NAHB Chairman Bob Jones, a builder and developer in Bloomfield, MI. "That's how many homes were built before 1978, when lead paint was banned . We need significantly more contractors certified than the 300,000 who have taken the training course, and we also need to make sure that affected homeowners understand the importance of hiring a certified contractor."

WDMA President Michael O'Brien said, "While we appreciate EPA responding to the concerns raised by WDMA and others, we continue to have serious concerns with many aspects of the rule, including the removal of the opt-out provision and unreliable test kits, and the new rulemakings on clearance testing and expansion to commercial buildings. While everyone supports the goal of the rule, its complex and burdensome requirements have the potential to seriously impact the industry's fragile recovery and WDMA will continue to seek ways to mitigate those impacts."  

EPA issued the Lead RRP rule because a "disturbing number of America's children are poisoned by lead-based paint in their homes leading to learning and behavioral disorders."

"(A)llowing additional time for firms and individuals to obtain that training and certification will facilitate compliance with the rule. The agency appreciates the many unique challenges around the country, including numerous disaster declarations and is committed to encouraging additional training opportunities in every state in order to meet the demand for classes," Giles wrote.

Read the National Association of Home Builders' press release.

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