ABC July 6 responded to an advance notice of proposed rulemaking by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that could eventually expand the agency’s Lead-Safe Renovation, Repair and Painting (RRP) program to include commercial and public buildings.   

The notice announced that the agency is considering imposing Lead-Safe requirements on non-residential buildings, and is seeking information on lead-based paint hazards that may be created by commercial renovations to determine whether regulations should be issued.  EPA will determine whether to promulgate a rule by December 2011.  If the agency does proceed with a rulemaking, it plans to have the requirements finalized by July 2013, with implementation likely to begin on or before July 2014.  

As part of a coalition with 14 other organizations, ABC filed comments with the EPA cautioning the agency does not have authority to implement the rule.  In the comments, the coalition pointed out that the statute under which EPA would issue the rule grants the authority to issue guidelines for work practice standards but not the authority to impose regulatory requirements concerning those practices.   

In addition, the coalition noted that the regulations exceed EPA’s authority because public and commercial buildings may present very different patterns of exposure to lead-based paint than in residential settings, which could result in different hazard types.  Since EPA acknowledged in the notice of proposed rulemaking that it does not have enough information to determine this because it is relying on old and unrelated studies, the coalition urged EPA to conduct a Congressionally mandated comprehensive study that is a prerequisite for imposing the rule before taking any regulatory action. 

“Indeed, the many questions concerning the extent to which RRP activities in commercial and public buildings actually present lead-based paint hazards and the potential consequences of any regulations strongly suggest that the Agency should continue to seek the input of key stakeholders such as the Coalition’s members as this rulemaking proceeds,” the comments stated. 

The coalition also pointed out that EPA does not have information on the prevalence of lead-based paint in commercial buildings and has not convened a Small Business Advocacy Review Panel consistent with the Regulatory Flexibility Act to determine the economic impact on the substantial number of small entities that would be affected by the rule.