July 8, 2010 – A coalition of housing industry groups joined the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) today in announcing plans to file a lawsuit against the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for removing the "opt-out" provision from its Lead: Renovation, Repair and Painting rule.

The Lead: Renovation, Repair and Painting rule (LRRP) applies to homes constructed before 1978 when lead paint was banned. Its opt-out provision, which expired July 6, let consumers allow contractors to bypass extra preparation, clean-up and recordkeeping requirements in homes where there were no children under 6 or pregnant women, thus avoiding additional costs.

"Removing the opt-out provision more than doubles the number of homes subject to the regulation," said NAHB Chairman Bob Jones, a home builder and developer in Bloomfield Hills, Mich. "About 79 million homes are affected, even though EPA estimates that only 38 million homes contain lead-based paint. Removing the opt-out provision extends the rule to consumers who need no protection."

The Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association, the National Lumber and Building Material Dealers Association and the Window and Door Manufacturers Association joined NAHB in filing the petition for review in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

The group will challenge EPA’s action on the grounds that the agency substantially amended its LRRP regulation without any new scientific data and before the regulation was even put into place on April 22, 2010.

"Even under the original rule, the opt-out provision was not available in homes where small children or pregnant women live," Jones said. "That shows that this change provides no additional protection to the people who are most vulnerable to lead-based paint hazards."

Remodelers’ and other contractors’ estimates of the additional costs associated with the lead-safe work practices average about $2,400, but vary according to the size and type of job. For example, a complete window replacement requires the contractor to install thick vinyl sheeting to surround the work area both inside the home and outdoors – with prep time and material costs adding an estimated $60 to $170 for each window.

"Consumers trying to use rebates and incentive programs to make their homes more energy efficient will likely find those savings eaten up by the costs of the rule’s requirements. Worse, these costs may drive many consumers – even those with small children – to seek uncertified remodelers and other contractors. Others will likely choose to do the work themselves – or not do it at all – to save money. That does nothing to protect the population this rule was designed to safeguard," Jones said    

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