Lead Paint Rule

On June 17, 2010, Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tn.) commented that the Environmental Protection Agency had made a good decision in giving an extension on the deadline for complying with the new lead-paint rule which requires the certification of all home renovators in the safe removal of lead paint. Alexander said the move would, "help Tennesseans get back on their feet."

The decision of the EPA to offer an extension came in response to a letter by Senator Alexander asking it to reconsider its decision, but also took into consideration the passing by the Senate of an amendment to the Supplemental Appropriations bill, which was sponsored by Senator Susan Collins (R-Me.) and cosponsored by Senator Alexander. The amendment prohibits the use of EPA funds for enforcing the new lead-paint rule.

Natural Disaster

"Tens of thousands of Tennesseans are rebuilding their homes after the worst natural disaster..., so I’m glad the EPA has listened and provided more time and resources for contractors to comply with the lead-paint rule to protect children from lead paint," said Sen. Alexander.

Historic Flooding

Alexander said that just in the city of Nashville, it is estimated that 13,000 carpenters, plumbers, and painters, who have some 11,000 structures to repair will be affected by the new lead-paint rule. The decision to delay the inception of the rule will prevent these workers from having to worry about daily fines of $37,500 while they get to work helping the city get back on its feet after flooding of historic proportions.

Sen. Alexander had written to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson on May 25th. Alexander is the most senior Republican on the appropriations subcommittee with jurisdiction over the EPA. Alexander requested a delay in implementing the lead-paint rule since this would make it difficult to start on the repair work of some 750,000 structures in Tennessee. The repairs would cost more money and require contractors to pay hefty fines of a daily maximum of $37,500.

The new lead-paint rule specifies that the firm or contractors receive certification in safe work methods for lead-based paint but complicating the matter is a clause that states that the contractor or firm's employees must also be certified. This would lead to an immediate shortage of qualified available contractors.

Any contractors who work without first attaining certification will be in violation of the new rule. Such contractors will have to pay fines of up to $37,500 for each day they violate the rule. This is certain to cause serious delays in repairing the flood damage for those thousands of Tennessee residents who can choose from only a small number of contractors certified in lead paint safety.