Tuesday, May 10, 2005


When it comes to industrial threats to Americans' health, the Bush administration has one response -- Let the industry that produced the toxins decide how to address the public health threat caused by their toxins.

From the LA Times:
The Environmental Protection Agency has quietly delayed work on completing required rules to protect children and construction workers from exposure to lead-based paint, exploring instead the possibility of using voluntary standards to govern building renovations and remodeling.

The EPA move, first disclosed in documents provided by an agency whistle-blower, has prompted angry questions from Democrats in Congress, the attorneys general of New York and Illinois, and public health advocates around the country.

One organization is threatening a lawsuit against the agency for failing to issue the rules, as required by law.

On Monday, five members of Congress wrote to EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson, demanding an explanation for the EPA's "apparent abandonment of regulations required by law to protect children from exposure to lead." ***

EPA officials emphasize that they are concerned about lead exposure and its effect on children. They also point to an internal study showing that the cost of the regulations — $1.7 billion to $3.1 billion annually — could be an overwhelming burden for the mostly small businesses that renovate buildings.

However, an agency estimate showed that such rules would provide health benefits of greater value, from $2.7 billion to $4.2 billion annually. ***

Under a 1992 amendment to the Toxic Substances Control Act, regulations governing building renovations and lead safety were to be in place by 1996, but the EPA fell behind schedule. In 2003, the agency issued a report saying it expected to finish the rules by 2005.

However, agency documents show that in mid-2004, Johnson was presented with a choice: to complete the mandatory rules or to pursue an approach that would encourage lead-safe remodeling and renovation through public education and collaborative programs with industry.

In recent written responses to Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), Johnson said that the agency was "developing an education and outreach campaign that will convey the benefits of the use of lead-safe work practices…. EPA is also targeting outreach efforts to expand consumer awareness."

He said the EPA planned to launch its education campaign by the fall and that officials would evaluate what "additional steps may be necessary, including regulation." Obama was disturbed by the response, according to his spokesman, Robert Gibbs, who said Illinois had more cases of lead poisoning than any other state.

"This issue hits home for him," Gibbs said. "Every day of delay means more children get sick."
The Bush EPA will not regulate building renovations. The Bushies won't regulate even though regulation would protect children and construction workers. The Bush EPA won't regulate lead paint exposure even though its own studies show that regulation of lead-paint would save money in addition to lives.

I wonder why the Bush administration simply refuses to regulate the construction industry.

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