Waters of the US definitions on the way out

The EPA and Army Corps of Engineers last month proposed to replace the 2015 definition of the term “waters of the United States” (WOTUS) with the definition that existed since 1986.

The agencies said the action is the first in a two-step process. In Step 2, the government will propose a new definition for WOTUS.

In the announcement, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt stated that going back to the well-established 1986 definition allows the agencies to provide continuity and clarity to the regulated community while deliberating on a new definition.

And this time, the agencies said, the path to a new rule will be more public. “As we go through the rule making process, we will continue to make the implementation of the Clean Water Act Section 404 regulatory program as transparent as possible for the regulated public,” said Douglas Lamont, acting Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works.

“NAHB applauds President Trump, the EPA and the Corps for taking the necessary actions to roll back this seriously flawed WOTUS rule that would harm housing affordability by requiring expensive and time-consuming federal permits for countless ditches, isolated ponds and dry channels,” NAHB chairman Granger MacDonald said in a press release.

“Earlier this year, the president honored a campaign promise made to home builders as he signed an executive order directing EPA and the Corps to begin the process of dismantling the controversial WOTUS rule. This is an important step forward to rework the flawed regulation that blatantly usurped state and local authority,” MacDonald said.

“NAHB looks forward to working with the administration, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt and [Mr.] Lamont to develop a common-sense solution to protecting our nation’s waterways while taking into account the interests of local businesses and communities nationwide,” MacDonald said.

A Letter from Michael Dey on the Environmental Protection Agency

HBA of Greenville Members:

I received word today that the EPA is in the Greenville area conducting audits of compliance with the Lead Renovation, Repair, and Painting program, commonly called the Lead Paint Rule. The EPA has requested compliance records from at least one remodeler member of your Home Builders Association.

As a reminder, contractors working on homes built prior to 1978 are required to be certified by the EPA and required to follow the guidelines for testing for the presence of lead paint and mitigating exposure when lead paint is present. In addition, the contractor is required to keep meticulous records of their compliance with the rule. A complete explanation of the rule can be found at this link: http://www.hbaofgreenville.com/resources-for-remodelers.html

Failure to comply with this rule can include very expensive fines.

If you have any questions, please contact me.

Michael Dey, Executive Vice President and Chief Executive Officer

The Deadline for the EPA Lead Paint-Re-certification Extension is Coming Up

The Deadline for the EPA Lead Paint-Re-certification Extension is Coming Up

The issue: An estimated 380,000 remodelers and others who must re-up their Lead-Safe Certifications from the Environmental Protection Agency to comply with its Lead: Renovation, Repair and Painting (LRRP) rule are staring at some important deadlines.

NAHB Remodelers Chairman Robert Criner met with White House officials Monday to, again, plead the industry’s case for a simplified re-certification process for NAHB members and others who do work in homes with lead paint.

March 31, 2016, marks the end of an unprecedented extension granted last year for some of these remodelers. It’s the deadline by which those remodelers and other contractors who received their EPA Lead-Safe Certified Renovator certifications on or before March 31, 2010, must complete a refresher training course to maintain their status.

After March 31, 2016, the clock resumes ticking for the second phase of renovators, one day at a time. Those who became certified between April 1, 2010, and March 31, 2011, must be re-certified within six years from the date they completed the original training course.

The extension did not apply to renovators operating under one of the 14 state-delegated programs.

timelineComplicating matters is the uncertainty of regulatory action regarding re-certification training requirements.

A draft final rule – proposed by the EPA and supported by your Home Builders Association – to remove the hands-on training requirement is pending review by the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB). When Criner met with OMB officials Jan. 11 in Washington, D.C., he urged them to expedite review and finalization of this common-sense improvement to the LRRP rule.

Without this regulatory action, the first wave of remodelers who received their initial certification on or before March 31, 2010, must renew their EPA Lead-Safe Certified Renovator certifications with in-person refresher training by March 31, 2016.

Your Home Builders Association will inform members immediately when the agency issues its final regulation on re-certification training.

If you were certified by March 31, 2010, or live in one of 14 delegated states that have their own unique set of rules, use and share this map to help you through the lead paint regulatory maze.

EPA Ramps Up Lead Paint Inspections

If you are a builder or remodeler, this information from NAHB regarding the EPA’s crackdown on lead paint is crucial for your business.

Some regional offices of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are changing the way they approach lead-safe work practice inspections, which could be a factor in the rising number of companies fined for violating EPA regulations.

EPA’s approach to lead-safe work practice inspections varies by region. Region 7 (Midwest) is the latest to employ a more targeted approach, having recently increased its focus on the St. Louis, Mo., area.

The strategy mirrors what was done during the summer of 2014 in EPA Region 1 (New England), which concentrated its efforts primarily in New Haven, Conn. EPA says the strategy led to improved compliance and awareness of the Lead-based Paint Renovation, Repair, and Painting (RRP) regulations. Out of the 65 inspections conducted in New Haven during that period, EPA issued enforcement actions against six companies.

“After seeing what was done in Region 1, we saw an opportunity for us to not only educate the remodeler community, but also the general public to help drive demand for the remodelers who are certified to do the job the right way,” said Jamie Green, chief of the toxics and pesticides branch for Region 7.

EPA issued a press release and conducted radio interviews when the initiative kicked off last August. Since then, 26 inspections have been conducted in St. Louis to evaluate lead-safe work practices.

Inspectors also began conducting “compliance assistance visits,” reaching approximately 200 remodelers throughout the city. The visits were done at times when regulated work was not being done, so rather than carry out an inspection, the inspectors would explain the RRP regulations, deliver information packets and answer questions.

Projects that receive full inspections are identified in a variety of ways, but primarily as a result of tips and complaints submitted by the general public, as well as from EPA-lead searches of publicly available information.

Still, many are conducted on an ad-hoc basis, according to Green, who says inspectors will often drop in on a project while traveling to and from predetermined inspections.

Next month, Region 7 will launch an advertising campaign to raise awareness among St. Louis-area consumers about the risks of lead exposure.

“The ultimate goal here is to protect children’s health,” Green said. “There are a lot of remodelers out there who are doing it right, so a large piece of this is to make sure we’re reaching out to consumers about the value of hiring those certified renovators.”

Green says it’s too early to determine the impact of the new, targeted approach. However, the focus on St. Louis will continue through the end of the year, when Green will assess the initiative’s effectiveness and decide if similar measures would be worthwhile in other parts of the region.

Nationwide, the number of enforcement actions against businesses that violated the RRP regulation increased in 2015. Seventy-five companies received fines of $2,000 to more than $50,000, mostly for violating work practice standards and/or failing to obtain proper training and certification regarding lead-safe work practices.

For more information about how to comply with the RRP rule, visit nahb.org or visit the HBA of Greenville at hbaofgreenville.com.

NAHB Helps Clarify EPA’s New Rule

NAHB Helps Clarify EPA’s New Rule

Having trouble understanding the EPA’s new rule and how it will affect you? NAHB clarifies with infographics and projections below.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) final rule revising the National Ambient Air Quality Standard for ozone has been published in the Federal Register.
As previously reported by NAHBNow, EPA revised the standard to 70 parts per billion (ppb) from the 75 ppb set in 2008.
Based on the agency’s 2012-2014 air quality monitoring data, there are at least 241 counties where current ozone levels exceed the newly revised 2015 standard (below).

By comparison, 225 counties were designated as non-attainment under the 2008 standards (below).

The final standard is likely to affect 14 of the top 20 housing markets, expanding its impact on new housing. More than 140 local HBAs are likely to be impacted – some for the first time, and some seeing more members affected. [See infographic for more details.]

Preliminary data offers some indication of what the impact will be: EPA will likely take final action based on updated air quality monitoring data. In addition, the counties without valid air quality monitors may be designated as nonattainment based on the status of neighboring counties’ air quality, even if those counties are in another state.

EPA projects that states will submit designation recommendations by Oct. 1, 2016. EPA will respond by June 1, 2017,indicating whether the agency intends to make any modifications and providing states an opportunity to comment and provide additional information. By Oct.1, 2017, EPA will issues final area designations,which are expected to be based on 2014-2016 air quality data.

While the overall impact of the final rule is mitigated in comparison to the full range of options considered by EPA under the proposal, the full scope of implementation issues may not be known until area designations are made final and state implementation plans are developed: It is at this stage when potential roadblocks to land development and building may be proposed.

By 2020-2021, states must provide their state implementation plans that outline how they will reduce emissions and meet the standard in non-attainment areas. EPA expects the implementation of other federal clean air rules, such as the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule, Mercury and Air Toxics Standards, Tier 3 Vehicle Emissions and Fuels Standards, and the Clean Power Plan, to have a significant impact on reducing ozone-forming pollution in the years ahead the requirements.

Regardless, areas designated non-attainment will be faced with adopting a suite of federal, state and local measures that are needed to demonstrate how the relevant nonattainment area can achieve the standard by the required deadline.