If you’re among the nearly 200,000 remodelers who were among the first to get certified for doing renovations amid potential lead-paint hazards, odds are increasing that—despite a regulator’s best intentions—you’ll have to drive somewhere to get recertified. That’s because, at its current pace, Washington, D.C., will be hard-pressed to permit online recertification by next July 1, when the first wave of recertifications will come due.

At this time, the federal Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is reviewing a proposed rule change from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that would make it possible for renovators certified under the Lead Renovation, Repair, and Painting (RRP) rule to take recertification classes entirely online. The current standard 4-hour recertification course calls for two 20-minute hands-on sessions—sessions that mean you have to travel somewhere to take the course.

EPA officials want a 100% online recertification course because they believe it will make it easier to get recertified without reducing the course’s value. The National Association of Home Builders and other groups have applauded the move, saying hands-on training has “resulted in significant travel costs.”

But good intentions don’t grease the tracks. The OMB has deemed the EPA’s desired amendment to be a significant rulemaking. That means that the OMB can take up to 90 days to review the rule and forward it for publication and public comment, followed by a minimum of 60 days spent taking in comments and the EPA submitting a final proposal, followed by another 90 days of OMB review and approval of the final rule, followed by a 60-day waiting period before the rule takes effect. 

All that adds up to roughly 10 months before the final rule allowing online classes could launch. And on July 1, the NAHB estimates that upward of 200,000 people will need to have recertification papers in hand or else they’ll have to start getting certified from scratch. All told more than 135,000 businesses and roughly 500,000 individuals have been certified.

In fact, the real deadline for some of those businesses is April 1, because the RRP requires that companies mail in an application for recertification at least 90 days before the current certification expires. Failure to meet the 90-day rule could mean that the company must stop doing dust sampling or renovations once its certification expires, and it may need to start the certification process all over again.

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