Wednesday, April 21, 2010

EPA Lead Paint Rules: Are you Ready?

This is a letter WDDA Advisory Committee member David Steele wrote to Rebecca Morley, executive director of the nonprofit National Center for Healthy Housing, in response to her quote in a recent Washington Post Article. The article, EPA rules on lead paint in home renovations will soon take effect, is by Deborah K. Dietsch.

Dear Ms. Morley,

Your comments recently printed in the Washington Post are hard to swallow. You were quoted as saying “contractors have had "plenty of warning" about the new rules”. As a small business owner, a former social worker and participant in the first Earth day I have been an advocate for conservation and a safe environment since the mid 1960’s. I’ll compare my commitment to healthy housing to anyone. What I find hard to take is the arrogance of advocates and regulators who assert opinions as if they are absolute and superior to all others. Do you think I and my peers knew by some sort of telepathy that these regulations had been passed and recorded in the Federal register? I am better informed than most of my peers and yet I knew nothing – not one hint of these new regulations until January of this year.

Only recently has the industry begun to hear of these regulations. If a grass roots effort were not active most contractors would still know nothing of this issue. Are you so callous to the well being of the millions of men and women who make a living in the remodeling industry that you are unable to admit that the EPA has horribly mismanaged this issue? Making a splash on Earth day is hardly worth the price that will paid if those of us in compliance are denied work because we’re underbid by un-certified firms, if a large percentage of these jobs are tackled by unqualified homeowners or remodelers willing to operate below the radar. More children will be exposed, not less.

EPA has grossly underestimated, in the sloppiest fashion imaginable, the cost of compliance. The estimated additional cost of $8.00 to $167.00 per job is laughable. Angela Hoffman wrote me, after promising to send me the financial analysis EPA performed, that the EPA used a “straight line mathematical formula” to arrive at the estimate of $35.00 per job (this admission occurred after she asserted in a meeting we held at OMB that “the EPA never estimated $35 per job, that the $35.00 figure was in only one misconstrued press release”). Does anyone, anyone at all understand what a “straight line mathematical formula looks like? New math was bad enough. In the parallel universe that is Washington DC this might pass for a plausible explanation ; out here in the sticks we expect more. Pray tell, what job could ever incur just $8.00 in additional cost?

I am eager to do what is right for my customers, my employees and my community I am in favor of reasonable and effective efforts to protect anyone at risk of lead poisoning. What I am against is regulation that is unclear, difficult to implement, an open invitation for ruinous litigation and the demonization of the hard working men and women who live by the sweat of their brows and the work of their hands. Despite your confident and misguided belief to the contrary there has not been sufficient time to prepare. EPA has had sufficient time. After all they have been driving this truck. The EPA’s performance, the abysmally inadequate job they’ve done is plain for all to see. Your assertion that they will have 150,000 trained by April 22, 2010 is an absurd and patently false claim designed to cover up their pitiful performance. Sadly in this age they are unaccountable. You may feel that a $37,500 per day/per occurrence fine is just, I don’t. However, I’m willing to risk all the liability this regulation exposes me to, if the EPA staff and their enablers are subject to the same fine for their failings. What do you say Rebecca? How about a little accountability in DC?

Dave Steele
The Window Gallery

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