Alexander: EPA is “Tone-Deaf to Reality” on Lead Paint Rule During Tennessee Flood Cleanup

Says Rule Will Make it Harder for Thousands of Tennesseans to Get Back Into Their Homes

Posted on May 26, 2010

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today delivered the following remarks on the floor of the U.S. Senate regarding the Collins-Alexander amendment to the Supplemental Appropriations bill that would provide small contractors with more time to receive mandated training to comply with new Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) lead paint regulations: 

  • “The lead paint rule is a good idea. The idea is that most structures built before 1978 have lead paint, so if you’re going to go in as a repairman or a contractor or a painter and disturb six square feet, you need to know what you’re doing. And this is especially important for children under six and pregnant women, so we want to do that. But in the state of Tennessee, it’s a special problem to impose this requiring contractors to be certified with only three EPA trainers for the entire state because we’ve just had severe flooding in our state that affects 52 counties from Nashville to Memphis in the single largest natural disaster since President Obama took office.”
  • “This isn’t just a problem in certifying these EPA inspectors in ordinary times. We have 11,000 structures in Nashville, over 900 in Millington, and over 300 in Dyersburg in need of major repair —people are going into their basements, they’re taking down dry wall, they’re repainting, they’re cleaning up and getting back on their feet. We have three EPA trainers to certify up to 50,000 contractors who might have to be working on these homes. We have 750,000 structures in Tennessee which are homes or child care centers or other buildings that were built before 1978 that are covered by this rule.”
  • “Having a good rule is one thing; having a thorough implementation period is another, but to do it in the middle of a flood which is the largest natural disaster since President Obama took office is tone-deaf to reality.”
  • “I think it’s important for the Environmental Protection Agency to hear what United States Senators from all around the country are saying—especially in our state of Tennessee where we have thousands of repairmen, painters and workmen who need to go to work on tens of thousands of homes. We don’t want to have a risk where they may have to pay a fine of $37,500 for each violation. There are a lot of them who don’t make $37,500 in a year. We’re not talking about Wall Street financiers—we’re talking about painters and workmen and repairmen who are helping people dig out of a huge natural disaster.”


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