EPA in the collections business now...

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cs
Posts: 1041
Joined: Mon Jan 15, 2007 12:33 pm
Location: Dobbs Ferry NY

Re: EPA in the collections business now...

Post by cs »

By the way, for reference, the OP was writing in reference to the EPA rule:

The seller or agent must give the buyer a copy of 'Protect Your Family From Lead in Your Home' and inform the buyer of any known lead-based paint hazards. The seller is not required to test for lead. The seller must offer the prospective buyer a 10-day opportunity to have a lead inspection or risk assessment performed. The buyer cannot be obligated to sign a contract until given this opportunity. The parties may agree to adjust the 10-day period.

and the fines that have been levied against landlords who have failed to do this.

The conversation has since (as far as I can tell) drifted into the other EPA rule requiring...

Firms performing renovation, repair, and painting projects that disturb lead-based paint in pre-1978 homes, child care facilities and schools be certified by EPA and that they use certified renovators who are trained by EPA-approved training providers to follow lead-safe work practices. The course is 8 hours and the "lead safe work practices" are essentially: Contain the work area. Minimize dust. Clean up thoroughly.

The trouble with these types of threads, is that they tend to get tinged with a persons larger political framework. Rather than say, "I really disagree with the EPA's Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule because "I would like to hire a cheaper contractor to paint my house"... or for contractors, "I've been a competent professional for years without having to go to the time and expense of getting yet another certification, and this ruling makes my services more expensive" - or as the OP intimated, "The 'pamphlet rule' seems a bit silly to me, and I'm pretty certain that these fines are WAY out of proportion to the transgression"... we get statements similar to "government is out of control"... "the IRS is dangerous" ... "the EPA will be telling us how to raise our children." Those indeed, may be your opinions, but if you are REALLY interested in making someone think about the merits of your argument, statements like these are counterproductive, at best... and possibly upsetting to some (though as several pointed out, it's easy enough not to click on topics that will upset you).

The strength of these boards is in their ability to generate actual concrete advice about old houses, and board members own particular situations. A good example of that and related to lead, can be found here: viewtopic.php?f=2&t=27892&st=0&sk=t&sd= ... eway+chips
As you can see, even folks who agree in an abstract way elsewhere that "the EPA is out of control" for the most part, frame their answers differently when confronted with someone's personal story. Everyone is (well...mostly) helpful, sympathetic and reasonable, regardless about their opinions on the role of government in society - and those opinions are not blunted in their answers. That's as it should be, IMO. Where feathers got ruffled (there as here) are the spots where statements became hyperbolic, general and where personal opinion is delivered instead as universal fact.

The fact that we can get beyond that gives me hope.

Chris
http://www.saracenihouse.com

csnyder
Posts: 74
Joined: Mon Mar 05, 2012 12:49 pm
Location: Grand Rapids, MI

Re: EPA in the collections business now...

Post by csnyder »

lisascenic wrote:That's not what I mean. I hate reading all the anti-EPA rhetoric on this forum.

I like the fact that American rivers no longer regularly catch on fire. I enjoy knowing that American drinking water is safe to drink. I like breathing clean air.

I like government regulation.

There. I said it.
I'm with you, Lisa. I have asthma, so I'm especially upset whenever someone complains about the EPA infringing on their "right" to spew pollutants into the air, which happens to impede on my right to breathe. It's also very sad that my pregnant wife has to be careful about eating fish from Lake Michigan because of the mercury pollution from coal-fired power plants. With a 20-month-old and another on the way, I'm also very sensitive to lead poisoning concerns.

In the course of the renovations we've been doing, we've had a lot of contractors doing various work. It's been interesting to see their approaches to the lead issue. None of the independents have bothered with the certification (don't tell the EPA!). One contractor (the best one I've worked with) doesn't normally take many precautions, but volunteered to set up containment devices that did a reasonable job of taking care of the dust (he used a vacuum with a HEPA filter rather than an actual HEPA vacuum - good enough for me - as well as putting up plastic and taping off the area). Another contractor professed his doubts about whether the lead problem actually exists - he does excellent work, so we're still using him for an upcoming project, but I'm going to be very clear as to what our expectations are.

Unfortunately, it's very difficult to ensure that regulations protect the disadvantaged while preserving freedom. I agree that the EPA has come down too hard - especially on individual homeowners - but I can see how it is difficult to find the perfect compromise. The sad result is that many people that are already wary of government regulation - such as my second contractor - react by ignoring the problem altogether. Lead poisoning is a very real threat, especially for young children; it should not be taken lightly.

The "pamphlet rule" also seems silly to me; but when I think about it, it seems similar to airline safety demonstrations. We all ignore them, but I'd bet that anyone who flies at least once every few years has the routine memorized. In the same way, the lead pamphlets are useless to me, because I already know the information they contain - but I had to learn that information somewhere initially. At one time, that information was new to me; how does the contractor or Realtor know that I've seen that pamphlet 20 times before?

Thanks to Chris for pointing out concrete solutions to the problem. At the end of the day, that's much more useful than any political arguments.
Chris Snyder, WavyGlass.org

triguy128
Posts: 708
Joined: Mon Sep 12, 2011 9:41 pm
Location: Keokuk, Iowa

Re: EPA in the collections business now...

Post by triguy128 »

The trouble is that the focus of the EPA is enforcement, not actually protecting the environment. They have a budget and need ot levy fines to pay for ongoing enforcement. My workplace is the largest "polluter" in the state. But not a single gallon of that "toxic waste" is anything that you couldn't flush down a regular drain or in most cases consume directly. In a small body of water, it would have a significant impact to local wildlife. But in the Mississippi river, the birds pooping in it pollute more than we do. We are making strides to correct known issues, but it's a 120+ year old facility spread of about 2 square miles. It's not easy to change overnight. However, the name of the game is permitting. If you're not permitted, or it's out of specification, then it's pollution. Water that's too warm and even too muddy can be pollution.

Keep in mind that coal comes form the ground. So which the point source pollution is ocncetrated and an issue, it's not like its' some manmade toxic substance. It's a natrually occuring mineral. Plenty of stream and rivers are naturally high in lead, mercury, arsenic and so forth. No making na excuse, just pointing out that humans while responsible for polluting are also resonsible for making nature healthier in many cases too.

I'm all for clean air and water, but it goes well beyond actually preventing pollution itself.
1925 Neo-Classical

Previous home - 1968 single story Ranch/Colonial, 1200sqft - 11 windows
Current home - 1925 2 story Beaux Arts Neo-classical overlooking the Mississippi River, 3200sqft - 48 Windows

cs
Posts: 1041
Joined: Mon Jan 15, 2007 12:33 pm
Location: Dobbs Ferry NY

Re: EPA in the collections business now...

Post by cs »

triguy128 wrote:The trouble is that the focus of the EPA is enforcement, not actually protecting the environment. They have a budget and need ot levy fines to pay for ongoing enforcement.
Of course they do. How can you have an agency that successfully protects the environment without the ability to provide enforcement? The EPA has always "been in the collections business." If the agency can't use the threat of fines, than it's really just a paper tiger. This is how the environment is protected by this agency - by making in more expensive and more of a hassle for polluters not to comply.

Your right, it's difficult for large/old companies or municipalities to change overnight, but they make changes as they can, and one day they WILL be in compliance. Heck, it's no different in the FDA, local health departments and the Sanitation Departments of many major US cities. All of these entities (and more) use the threat of fines to ensure compliance, and the collection of fines to defray some of the cost of running the agency.

I'm sure many fine-ees feel unjustly cited - ask me about the totally bogus parking ticket I got three months ago in Chelsea - but as an operational framework (generally speaking) it works pretty well for most agencies in terms of achieving their goals while, at least in part, self-funding.

That all said, I don't know what the appeal process is like for EPA-delivered fines. Perhaps that is an area that needs help. I don't know. Also, while I am personally thrilled that private owners are exempt from the lead paint abatement rules, I do sympathize with responsible firms, (like Jade's) who now must jump through extra hoops because of less-than-responsible contractors' past actions.

Soooo... I guess my question to you all would be:

How would you restructure the lead paint abatement ruling so that it achieves the following:
  • 1) Prevents companies from doing this: viewtopic.php?f=2&t=27892&st=0&sk=t&sd= ... eway+chips
    2) Doesn't cause undo expenses or hassles for firms that have always done the right thing
    3) Doesn't diminish the value of older homes, or encourage tear downs
    4) Addresses child safety as it pertains to lead exposure
    5) to the extent possible, self-generate funds to help pay for enforcement
Nobody knows old houses better than this community, so I'm sure there will be some great ideas!

Chris
http://www.saracenihouse.com

csnyder
Posts: 74
Joined: Mon Mar 05, 2012 12:49 pm
Location: Grand Rapids, MI

Re: EPA in the collections business now...

Post by csnyder »

cs wrote: How would you restructure the lead paint abatement ruling so that it achieves the following:
  • 1) Prevents companies from doing this: viewtopic.php?f=2&t=27892&st=0&sk=t&sd= ... eway+chips
    2) Doesn't cause undo expenses or hassles for firms that have always done the right thing
    3) Doesn't diminish the value of older homes, or encourage tear downs
    4) Addresses child safety as it pertains to lead exposure
    5) to the extent possible, self-generate funds to help pay for enforcement
+1

While the EPA doesn't have a perfect system, that doesn't mean that the whole idea is flawed. Rather than dismantling it, let's fix our government so that it works for us. This isn't an easy problem to fix - especially at a national (or even state-wide) scale.
Chris Snyder, WavyGlass.org

triguy128
Posts: 708
Joined: Mon Sep 12, 2011 9:41 pm
Location: Keokuk, Iowa

Re: EPA in the collections business now...

Post by triguy128 »

Maybe that's the point i was trying ot get across. The government has lost sight that it's there to serve the needs of hte people not itself. IF enforcement does more harm than good, how is that helpful or serving the people.

For example, a company is fined lets say $1MM for exceeding or operating outside the limitations of a permit. Wouldn't you think that some of the fine should go towards environmental programs, education, habitat protection or otherwise get reinvested in some way to the local or regional area where those that were supposedly impacted by the pollution live? No... it goes to "the pot" to further fund enforcement.
1925 Neo-Classical

Previous home - 1968 single story Ranch/Colonial, 1200sqft - 11 windows
Current home - 1925 2 story Beaux Arts Neo-classical overlooking the Mississippi River, 3200sqft - 48 Windows

Patchules
Posts: 329
Joined: Sun Sep 11, 2005 9:08 pm
Location: Maine and Baltimore

Re: EPA in the collections business now...

Post by Patchules »

triguy128 wrote:Keep in mind that coal comes form the ground. So which the point source pollution is ocncetrated and an issue, it's not like its' some manmade toxic substance. It's a natrually occuring mineral. Plenty of stream and rivers are naturally high in lead, mercury, arsenic and so forth. No making na excuse, just pointing out that humans while responsible for polluting are also resonsible for making nature healthier in many cases too.
I'm all for clean air and water, but it goes well beyond actually preventing pollution itself.

And when coal is left undisturbed while in the ground it does not cause very much trouble. It is when we humans start to mess with it that we begin to poison ourselves. Mining coal, crushing and washing it, transporting it, burning it and dumping the bottom ash and fly ash cause all the problems. Even the abandoned mines continue to pollute as they are tunnels into and through the layers that bear potable water. The tailings from the mines are abandoned or used to fill valleys. Look at the mountain topping operations.

Here is a good example of things that happen with the bottom ash.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kingston_F ... urry_spill

Here in MD there are "disposal" sites all over the place.
http://www.chesapeakeclimate.org/file-u ... hSites.pdf
Some of the 2 million tons generated annually in MD was dumped in old quarries where it contaminated water supplies. Fly ash, the stuff that goes up the stack or partially into various filtering devices, flys all over the world in the wind and comes down in the rain to polute everything. The "clean coal" technology touted by the energy companies is mostly NOT used because it would raise the price of power. They don't tell you that in the energy marketing "we are good guys" ads. Witness the latest fight over the EPA mandates on controlling fly ash.

I am glad we have an EPA. I think they have gotten a little ahead of themselves and out of touch with the street level folks.

CycloneOfRed
Posts: 275
Joined: Fri Jan 15, 2010 10:25 am
Location: Ionia, Michigan

Re: EPA in the collections business now...

Post by CycloneOfRed »

cs wrote:How would you restructure the lead paint abatement ruling so that it achieves the following:

1) Prevents companies from doing this: viewtopic.php?f=2&t=27892&st=0&sk=t&sd=a&hilit=lead+paint+driveway+chips
2) Doesn't cause undo expenses or hassles for firms that have always done the right thing
3) Doesn't diminish the value of older homes, or encourage tear downs
4) Addresses child safety as it pertains to lead exposure
5) to the extent possible, self-generate funds to help pay for enforcement
Unfortunately, as long as there is money to be made, there will be someone who cuts corners, cheats, lies and/or steals in order to maximize their profit. However, all the laws and regulations in the world will not stop this (laws against crime do little to stop criminals). What these regulations do is add a substantial burden to the honest, law abiding contractor who would, in all likelihood, use common sense and utilize safe practices anyway.

2&3) De-regulation of these absurd lead abatement rules would be a tremendous help in this regard. As of now, the EPA gives certificates to any business that applies in order to be qualified to teach lead abatement safety, for a nominal fee of $300 that must be renewed every five years. These for profit agencies then offer classes for lead safe practice certificates which, guess what, also must be renewed every five years. This pertains to every individual who works on any house built prior to 1978. Every employee, every five years (This is an excellent article that explains the actual cost of these regulations to contractors/businesses involved in lead abatement, and how those costs are passed on to the consumer http://www.remodeling.hw.net/lead-paint ... -cost.aspx). If nothing else, the EPA could offer these classes themselves for a smaller fee, and get rid of the re-certification requirement (if you have the training and work with that training on a daily/weekly/monthly basis, you don't need to be retaught).

4&5) As the owners of a home that tested positive for lead paint, and the parent of a 2 year old (and another one due at the end of the month), my wife and I did the responsible thing and took a lead safety class. I believe that if the EPA is truly interested in preventing lead poisoning, and not just using the lead paint scarecrow as a way to drum up revenue through excessive fines, we would see them doing mailings to older neighborhoods either advising that they take such a class, or better yet, since many older neighborhoods tend to be economically depressed, offering these classes themselves for a low fee that only covers the cost of the class (or dare I say free?).

Of course, my honest opinion is that the best way to fix the problem is to cut the EPA's budget by over 50% (and ensure that any fines levied by the EPA would never reach their own coffers). This would hopefully be enough to force them to stop wasting time on frivolous and unnecessary regulation and focus on the issues that are truly a threat to the environment.
Laws of Home Repair:
1) It will be more difficult than you think.
2) It will take much longer than you think.
3) Murphy's Law is in effect tenfold.

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Sashguy
Posts: 186
Joined: Mon Jan 30, 2012 10:09 pm
Location: Houston, TX

Re: EPA in the collections business now...

Post by Sashguy »

CycloneOfRed wrote:Of course, my honest opinion is that the best way to fix the problem is to cut the EPA's budget by over 50% (and ensure that any fines levied by the EPA would never reach their own coffers). This would hopefully be enough to force them to stop wasting time on frivolous and unnecessary regulation and focus on the issues that are truly a threat to the environment.
Bingo

jade mortimer
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Location: hawley massachusetts
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Re: EPA in the collections business now...

Post by jade mortimer »

i find this to be an interesting and engaging conversation and i appreciate the civility...i am of the opinion that the epa (and most other government departments) over complicate and over regulate in some areas while turning a blind eye to others...introduction of new coal mining, drilling for oil in wilderness areas, fracking in backyards, minimal mpg on vehicles, 18 wheelers spewing black smoke with every push of the clutch and without emission standards...and the epa goes over the top on a paint covering that was applied 125 years ago! :roll:

...jade

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