Posted on March 31, 2017 by Jorie Helms

NAHB Senior Officers held a productive meeting with Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt today to seek ways to make regulations more cost-effective without undermining their intent.

Discussions focused on several key issues for the home building community, including the waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule, lead paint and stormwater regulation.

Nearly 25% of the cost of a new single-family home is attributable to regulation. It’s important, said NAHB Chairman Granger MacDonald, that EPA consider the impact of federal regulations on existing state and local government requirements, as well as on small businesses.

As EPA carries out President Trump’s regulatory streamlining directives, NAHB urged the agency to focus not only on new rules but also on opportunities to revoke or revise existing ones.

A Positive First Step

NAHB said the president’s executive order on WOTUS is a positive first step toward a more sensible rule. NAHB offered to work with EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to craft a clear, defensible rule that is fair, balanced and meets the needs of our members.

NAHB agrees with Pruitt that any future rule must limit federal jurisdiction based on congressional intent and Supreme Court rulings. We added that regulation is best handled at the state and local level, and encouraged EPA to explore ways to remove hurdles that have prevented many states from running their own wetland permitting programs.

Regarding EPA’s Lead Renovation, Repair, and Painting (RRP) Rule, NAHB urged Pruitt to:

  • Conduct a revised cost-benefit analysis that acknowledges that no lead testing kit has come to market.
  • Respond to the congressional call for EPA to address the lack of a qualifying test kit, including an explanation of how the agency will resolve the issue.
  • Limit the scope of RRP coverage by reducing the housing stock covered to homes built before 1960, which have a greatest likelihood of containing lead-based paint.
  • Revise EPA’s regulation amending the RRP renovator refresher training requirements: It penalizes those who choose online training and has created confusion in the industry.

EPA is reviewing the RRP rule through the Regulatory Flexibility Act and NAHB is urging the agency to include these actions in the final report due out shortly.

Federal vs. State Roles

NAHB said it is vital to reverse federal overreach in the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System stormwater management program. NAHB requested a follow-up meeting with Pruitt’s staff to clarify federal vs. state roles. Specifically, we would like EPA to:

  • Turn its recent template for single-family homes in large subdivisions into a streamlined small lot permit. This would further simplify the program and dramatically reduce compliance costs for these low-risk sites.
  • Make it clear that the Permit Quality Review “report cards” that states receive from EPA offices are not legally binding. These reviews are suggestions, not requirements, and should not be seen as federal mandates to adopt stricter stormwater limits.

Also attending the EPA meeting were Second Vice Chairman Greg Ugalde, Third Vice Chairman Dean Mon, Immediate Past Chairman Ed Brady, CEO Jerry Howard and other senior NAHB staff. First Vice Chairman Randy Noel was on Capitol Hill testifying on regulatory reform.

“It went very well,” said a pleased Ugalde after the meeting ended. “I think we are going to be able to build upon the positive relationships our staff has created with the EPA and take it to the next level. EPA Administrator Pruitt listened very carefully to all our points and has instructed his staff to work closely with us going forward.”

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