Examiner Editorial: EPA puts ideology ahead of common sense 

Do you recall what you were doing April 22? Odds are good that lead paint in structures built prior to 1978 was not in your thoughts that day, but the issue was very much on the minds of the bureaucrats at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

That was the day the agency’s newest rule — Renovation, Repair and Painting — officially took effect. While RRP addresses a legitimate public health concern, it’s also a massive addition to the hundreds of thousands of pages of existing EPA regulations covering much of the U.S. economy.

Ostensibly, the RRP regulation is meant to protect pregnant women and children from exposure to unhealthy levels of lead paint. Even so, the rule illustrates how the EPA is currently driven more by progressive ideology and bureaucratic inefficiency than common sense. The rule requires that any renovation of any building built before 1978 affecting 6 or more square feet of paint must be overseen by a government-certified renovator and conducted by a government-certified renovation firm. Certification requires completion of an EPA-approved training course and payment of a fee to the agency.

The rule applies to anybody — painters, electricians, plumbers and carpenters, plus general contractors and property owners — who “disturbs painting” in covered structures. But as of April 22, the EPA had certified exactly 204 trainers to cover the millions of workers who generate approximately 18 percent of the country’s annual gross domestic product. No wonder the EPA just got a sharp rebuke on Capitol Hill. The Senate adopted, in a 60-37 vote, a measure sponsored by Republican Sens. James Inhofe of Oklahoma and Susan Collins of Maine to prevent the EPA from imposing a “levy against any person [or] any fine, or to hold any person liable for construction or renovation work” as a result of RRP.

For the time being, the EPA has bigger concerns than fighting Congress over implementation of the RRP regulation. For example, the EPA recently ordered BP to use a less-toxic oil dispersant without knowing beforehand that none currently exists. And EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson has been vigorously pushing a declaration by the agency that carbon dioxide is a health hazard that contributes to global warming. Jackson has threatened to implement the declaration if Congress fails to adopt the Obama administration’s proposed cap-and-trade anti-global warming program.

This is the same EPA that imposed a training requirement on millions of American workers without first making sure it had enough trainers to do the job.

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Staff Report

Staff Report

A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
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