Lead Paint Opt-out Bill Introduced in the Senate

Lead Paint Opt-out Bill Introduced in the Senate

The whole lead paint detection and removal issue has been bubbling up for quite some time with the new rules kicking in and creating quite the stir in terms of confusion in the areas of implementation, training, testing and enforcement. This week, Oklahoma Sen. James Inhofe introduced a lead paint opt-out bill that would reinstate the “opt-out” provision and relieve remodelers and other contractors working in pre-1978 homes from undue burdens. Originally included in the EPA’s Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting rule, the opt-out provision allows remodelers working in a home built before 1978 to forego the lead-safe work practices if no children under 6 or pregnant women resided there and the homeowner chose to “opt out” of having the remodeler follow them. The provision was removed from the rule by the EPA after a lawsuit by the Sierra Club.

Lead Paint Opt-out Bill Details

This is a perfect example of government hurting small business by interfering where it isn’t needed. How is it hurting businesses? Simple. Small businesses are ignoring the rules entirely and competing in the marketplace with companies who are paying the costs and fees to comply. That’s giving these organizations a competitive advantage. This is costing certified remodelers a lot of work. But the other issue is that careful and meticulous lead paint removal, while necessary, need not be as ridiculously regulated and tested where there is simply not going to be anybody present who can be harmed by the work. Then there are the fines. Even if you do the job to the best of your ability, using the best dust extractors and vacuums available and taking every precaution, there are so many hoops to jump through, you may find that you need to go back in and follow up with more work, or you may get called on missing part of the procedure and having hefty fines leveled against your company. In this economy, this is just ridiculous.

To illustrate the seriousness of the issue – and the damage it’s done to renovators and contractors, the NAHB has been engaged in a court battle with the EPA over the opt-out provision for over a year now. In November they even made oral arguments in front of the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. Unfortunately, the Court has failed, so far, to issue a ruling.

“We applaud Sen. Inhofe and his colleagues for sponsoring this bill to make much-needed improvements to EPA’s lead paint rule during this busy time in Congress. If this effort is successful, it will reduce the regulatory burden for remodelers facing costly penalties for first-time violations like misfiled paperwork and allow home owners to make the final decision about renovations in their homes.” – 2012 NAHB Remodelers Chairman George “Geep” Moore Jr., GMB, CAPS, GMR

The lead paint opt-out bill, S. 2148, is co-sponsored by five other “job-and-small-business-friendly” senators: Sens. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), David Vitter (R-La.), Michael Enzi (R-Wyo.), Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) and Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) and has been referred to the Senate’s Committee on Environment and Public Works.

Let’s hope the lead paint opt-out bill actually goes through and is turned into law – and soon. Contrary to what Washington’s EPA says, it IS possible (as demonstrated by over 30 years of doing it) to work safely on pre-1978 homes without the government watching over your every move.

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