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EPA Delays Proposed Lead Paint Rulemaking for Three Years

September 14, 2012

EPA has further delayed its plans to propose and then finalize a Lead Renovation Repair and Painting (LRRP) rule for potential lead-based paint hazards in commercial and public buildings.

NAR's efforts thus far, through letters to EPA and oversight from the Hill, have resulted in a significant delay in EPA’s issuance of new regulations -- particularly because NAR has stressed the point that the agency lacks data on the nature and extent of lead-based paint hazards unique to commercial buildings.  EPA had been under a deadline to issue a proposed LRRP rule for exterior commercial renovations by June 15, 2012.  With a new settlement agreement, EPA has delayed issuance of a proposed LRRP commercial by nearly 3 years – until July 1, 2015.  And, any final rule with regulatory impact is not expected for well over 4 years – until Dec. 31, 2016.

A few other points are noteworthy from this Settlement Agreement:

  • Previously, EPA had been on two separate paths that would have bifurcated LRRP commercial rules for exterior versus interior building renovations.  Under the latest Settlement Agreement, the exterior and interior renovations rules are now on the same regulatory deadlines.
  • To date – and as allowed by the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) – EPA said it would consider LRRP Rules for commercial and public buildings regardless of the date of their construction.  In contrast, TSCA and EPA residential LRRP rules are focused on pre-1978 “target housing.”  It now appears that EPA is operating under the same pre-1978 cut-off for public and commercial buildings as well.  NAR and our coalition partners have argued that – assuming any commercial LRRP Rules are appropriate at all – the pre-1978 cut-off for “target housing” should also apply to commercial buildings.  We will be following up to confirm whether EPA has, indeed, changed course and decided to restrict the scope of any possible LRRP commercial rule to pre-1978 structures (as it has done for “target housing”).
  • Under TSCA, EPA is required to first study and report to Congress on lead-based paint hazards in commercial buildings before it issues any new LRRP rule for those structures.  It still has not done so, and the Settlement Agreement is silent on this subject.  Assuming EPA continues down the path to develop new regulations, we will continue to press EPA to meet the statutory “report and study” requirement prior to EPA’s issuance of any proposed LRRP commercial rule.
  • Paragraph 2 states that, unless EPA concludes that “renovation activities in pre-1978 public and commercial buildings do not create a lead-based paint hazard,” EPA will continue to develop regulations in this arena.  EPA sets forth a process for it to gather information regarding any “hazard” determination:
    • By Dec. 31, 2012:  EPA will announce a public hearing to gather info on renovation activities and possible lead hazards in commercial buildings.
    • By July 31, 2013:  EPA will hold the public meeting.
    • By Aug. 29, 2014:  EPA will have completed the oversight process required by the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act (SBREFA), including the convening of an SBAR panel.