EPA lead rule suffers setback
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will not be able to enforce its Lead: Renovation, Repair and Painting (LRRP) rule until it approves a reliable lead test as mandated by its own regulations, according to an amendment adopted yesterday by the House Appropriations Committee. The amendment, supported by the National Lumber and Building Material Dealers Association (NLBMDA), was sponsored by Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-Mont.) and was approved by a committee voice vote.
When the EPA implemented the final LRRP Rule the agency was supposed to have approved a commercially available lead test kit, which produced no more than 10% false positives and 5% false negatives. As of today, no such kit is available on the market, and some new kits produce false positives as high as 60% of the time, according to an NLBMDA press release. The Rehberg Amendment would lift the burden of LRRP compliance and its costs from thousands of consumers in homes that otherwise would have tested negative.
"NLBMDA would like to thank Congressman Rehberg for his efforts to help alleviate the unjustified compliance burden placed on dealers and their customers as a result of unreliable test kits," said NLBMDA executive VP Scott Lynch. "If EPA is going to expect compliance from the regulated community, we expect them to adhere to their own regulations as well."
The appropriations bill will now move to the full House of Representatives for consideration.
There is no need for a better
There is no need for a better “test kit,” as highly reliable and affordable X-Ray Fluorescence technology has been in use for decades, there are many consultants who have XRF machines, and lead inspections are inexpensive. XRF testing produces no damage, while “test kits” and chip sampling involves producing widely scattered damage (12 to 15 sample locations for a typical room in a house). The reality is that lead-based paint is rare in residential buildings constructed 1960-1978, and is not everywhere in older buildings. EPA’s big mistake was not requiring that the buildings be inspected, so that procedures for dealing with lead-based paint are only used where it is actually present. Please contact me to discuss ways to help good contractors avoid losing working to the "hacks" who will create lead hazards, and for more information.
Bid to reverse light bulb rule fails
An attempt to repeal the phaseout of standard incandescent light bulbs failed to muster enough votes to win approval in the House of Representatives, according to an article in the Los Angeles Times.
The Republican-controlled House voted 233-193, short of the two-thirds majority necessary to enact the Better Use of Our Light Bulbs, or BULB, Act. A number of consumers, manufacturers and even environmental groups oppose the phaseout the old incandescents over three years, starting with 100-watt bulbs next Jan. 1. Federal legislation signed by George W. Bush in 2007 mandated the replacement of incandescents with more energy-efficient lighting sources.
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Amazon.com appeals to voters to overturn sales tax
The Los Angeles Times reported that Amazon.com will continue to fight against a California law passed July 1, which requires the company to collect a 7.25% sales tax. Amazon said that the law is unconstitutional, and has now announced that it will make the case against the sales tax to voters, in hopes that they will vote to overturn it. According to the Times, Amazon’s approach of appealing to the voters directly will likely be less costly and more effective than filing suit to block the law.
The new law requires all retailers with affiliates in California to collect the state sales tax, whereas before, the tax was only applied to Internet retailers that had “a significant physical presence,” the Times reported. In order to avoid collecting the tax, Amazon has cut off its affiliation with 10,000 small businesses whose websites link consumers to Amazon.
The main opposition to Amazon’s refusal to collect the tax, the LA Times said, comes from California merchants who believe that retailers operating solely on the Internet will gain an unfair advantage by avoiding collection of the sales tax. Target, Sears, Wal-Mart and Best Buy are among the many major retailers against which Amazon would have to fight in order to continue to avoid collecting the California sales tax. Additionally, the Times said, those in favor of collecting more taxes in order to fund health, social services and welfare will also likely vote against overturning sales tax collection.
The Times quoted Kathryn Gallagher, spokeswoman of Home Depot, who said: “We believe Amazon should collect sales tax because it levels the playing ground for all retailers, small and large.”
However, the Times said, though the odds are slightly against Amazon prevailing, the company does have a large base of customers likely to vote in favor of overturning the sales tax law. The Times also quoted George Runner, a member of the California Board of Equalization, who said: “Californians are losing jobs and income as a result of the so-called Amazon tax,” and added, “It should come as no surprise that impacted California business owners would seek its repeal.”
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