Volume 13, Issue 2 - March 2012

WDMA Update

The Fight Continues
LRRP Battle is Far from Over

by Michael O’Brien
mobrien@wdma.com

As most manufacturers, dealers and installers in our industry are acutely aware, the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Lead: Renovation, Repair and Painting (LRRP) rule governing the work of contractors in any pre-1978 home took effect on April 22, 2010. The rule requires renovation work that disturbs more than six square feet on the interior of a pre-1978 home and all door and window replacements to follow rigorous and costly work practices supervised by an EPA-certified renovator and requires that it be performed by an EPA-certified renovation firm.

Because of the mismanagement of EPA with respect to the implementation and enforcement of the LRRP, the impact of the rule continues to have negative consequences for the door, window and skylight replacement and retrofit market (which is the one market that has been sustaining much of the industry through the prolonged downturn). More ominous is EPA’s desire to expand the rule in residential and commercial construction with nary a shred of data to support such actions.

Not Backing Down
The Window and Door Manufacturers Association (WDMA), and indeed the entire fenestration industry, supports efforts to protect pregnant women and small children from the hazards of lead-based paint. However, EPA’s continued efforts to expand the rule beyond its original intent is the reason WDMA has continued to challenge it on every front—legislative, regulatory and legal.

"As we predicted, EPA is in effect discouraging contractors from even getting certified since they only target those who attempt to comply."

When EPA removed the “Opt-Out Provision” from the rule which allowed homeowners without children under six or pregnant women residing in the home to allow their contractor to forego the use of lead-safe work practices, WDMA filed suit in federal court challenging the action. By removing the opt-out provision, EPA more than doubled the number of homes subject to the LRRP Rule, and EPA has estimated that this amendment will add more than $336 million per year in compliance costs to the regulated community.

While the industry had a regulatory success in 2011 when EPA decided not to finalize its clearance testing proposal to expand the LRRP rule, many problems remain. Not the least of these is EPA’s continued failure to meet the requirements of its own rule by failing to approve a more accurate lead test kit. Current test kits can produce up to 60 percent false positives, meaning that in many cases, consumers are needlessly paying additional costs for work practices that are not needed and provide no benefit, but must be employed because of false positive test results. EPA’s initial estimates stated that an improved test kit would reduce the rule’s cost by $400 million a year. In addition, EPA stated in its rulemaking that “if the improved test kits are not commercially available by September 2010, EPA will initiate a rulemaking to extend the effective date of this final rule for one year with respect to owner-occupied target housing built after 1960.” Once again, EPA has ignored its own regulation.

Pursuing all the Options
Because this rule continues to grow, WDMA is committed to pursuing all means of redress. WDMA will be pursuing legislative remedies to address as many of the outstanding LRRP issues as possible. This will include restoring the “Opt-Out” clause and suspending enforcement of the rule if EPA cannot produce a viable test kit that meets its own requirements. Further, EPA should be prohibited from expanding the LRRP to commercial and public buildings until it conducts a study demonstrating the need for such an action.

WDMA has also been alarmed that current EPA LRRP enforcement almost exclusively targets paperwork citations for contractors who have actually been certified. As we predicted, EPA is in effect discouraging contractors from even getting certified since they only target those who attempt to comply. That is why we also believe there should be a de minimus exemption for first-time paperwork violations.

As anyone watching the news is aware, getting anything through Congress is extremely challenging. However, we should not stop trying to build support for action on this issue.

Michael O’Brien is president and CEO of the Window and Door Manufacturers Association in Washington, D.C.

 

 

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