Senate Passes Amendment to Allow Small Contractors Time to Comply with New EPA Lead Paint Rule
June 6, 2010

The U.S. Senate has passed an amendment to the Fiscal Year 2010 Emergency Supplemental Appropriations bill designed to provide contractors with additional time to comply with the recently enacted Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) lead paint rule. The bill, authored by Sen. Susan Collins (R - Maine) and Sen. Olympia Snowe (R - Maine), would prohibit the EPA from levying fines against contractors who have signed up for training classes by September 30, 2010.

The rule, called "Lead: Renovation, Repair and Paint Rule," went into effect April 22, 2010. It requires that contractors who perform work in homes built before 1978 be EPA-certified or face fines up to $37,500 per violation per day.

"Unfortunately, as a result of EPA's lack of planning, there still are not enough certified trainers in most states to educate contractors about these new requirements," reads a statement from Sen. Collins' office. "Three states, Louisiana, Wyoming and South Dakota, do not have a single EPA-certified trainer. In Maine, there are just three EPA-certified trainers. Hundreds of Maine contractors have signed up for training, but are being forced to wait."

Collins says a delay in the levying of fines would allow adequate time for contractors to comply with the new regulation.

"There is no question that we must continue our efforts to rid lead-based paint from our homes. Maine children are at particularly high risk for lead poisoning because more than 60 percent of our state's homes were built before lead-based paint was banned in 1978," says Sen. Collins. "But the EPA must step up to the plate and work quickly to boost the number of certified trainers in each state. The burden should not fall upon the shoulders of small contractors and construction professionals who are trying their best to comply with EPA's rule. The fines that EPA will levy would be devastating to small businesses that have been unable to comply due to EPA's failure to adequately plan for the implementation of this rule."

"Without question we want to make sure that we reduce lead poisoning incidents in the United States and enhance the remodeling industry that improves the efficiency of homes and the quality of life for families in Maine and throughout the nation," adds Sen. Snowe. "However, I am concerned about the manner in which EPA has failed to provide information and public notice about this major lead abatement rule causing confusion for homeowners and uncertainty for businesses … Unfortunately, given that so many businesses simply cannot receive training by the deadline to comply with the rule, it is imperative that we take the time to educate and inform communities on the process for compliance with the rule to ensure a seamless transition."

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