Media Coverage of EPA’s Lead Rule Performance
At a RRP workshop I attended last week, sponsored by the Lead and Environmental Hazards Association (LEHA), several renovators complained to Mike Wilson of EPA about EPA’s handling of the RRP rule. Renovators complying with the RRP rule have been asking for two specific actions from EPA to help level the playing field: consumer awareness and adequate enforcement. Workshop attendees expressed their frustrations with EPA’s poor performance in these areas by offering examples of how their businesses and livelihoods have been affected. They also offered examples of how they think the EPA’s poor performance in these areas is actually contributing to increasing the number of poisoned children.
The EPA may not being listening or hearing renovator’s complaints, but some news media are covering the topic. One television station in Ohio put together the following undercover news report:
Here is what I hope EPA will take away from the news report:
Consumer Awareness: EPA claims it has done “extensive outreach” about the rule to consumers and the regulated community. If you ask EPA what they have done they will provide you with an impressive list. The list of tactics may be long, but as the news report points out, the results have been dismal. It’s time to rethink their efforts and base their measurement of success on effectiveness, not quantity. That’s how marketing is measured by businesses--our government should act and think like a business before it invests our money.
Enforcement: According to the preamble of the RRP rule, EPA estimates that there are 189,000 small entities that would be affected by the rule. At the workshop last week Mike Wilson reported that to date EPA has certified about 90,000 firms and that states that have taken over the rule have certified or licensed about 10,000 more. Using EPA’s estimate of affected firms one would think that more than half of the businesses affected have become certified. Does that mean the glass is half full or half empty?
In reality, the glass is obviously much bigger than EPA knows, or is willing to recognize. According to the report A New Decade of Growth for Remodeling by Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies, in 2007, more than 650,000 businesses received a majority of their revenue providing remodeling services. The report also clarified that that number excludes the large number of part-time, semi-retired, and “moonlighting” contractors reporting gross revenues of less than $25,000. Not all of these businesses worked on pre-1978 homes, but you can bet the majority do. Plus, there are many other businesses outside the remodeling industry that are affected including exterminators, landlords, and even municipalities that perform their own work.
In his presentation Mike Wilson shared that states can take over administration of the RRP rule from EPA, but one of the conditions for doing so is that the state must prove to EPA that it will include “adequate enforcement.” Based on EPA’s performance so far on this area, that’s like having the fox watch the hen house. I hope something good comes about as a result of the news investigation.
Shawn McCadden founded, operated, and sold a successful design/build company. A co-founder of the Residential Design/Build Institute and former director of educaton for a national K&B remodeling franchise, Shawn writes a monthly column for REMODELING, speaks at industry events, and consults with remodeling companies. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit his Web site at http://www.shawnmccadden.com/. Click here to see Shawn's columns in REMODELING magazine: http://www.remodeling.hw.net/expert-opinion/columnists/columnists/shawn-mccadden.aspx