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Painting Pro’s Perspective: EPA’s Power Victory

Under the guise of an update, the EPA has won a huge TSCA victory, a power grab. The sneaky propaganda approach masked behind “modernizing” the existing law promises that the Agency will now be more effective and be positioned to better serve the public. Instead the new law, which should be referred to as the Orwellian Death Ray, provides the EPA with unprecedented, unchecked bureaucratic authority.

Since when does throwing more money and giving unlimited control to a government office benefit the people, small business or paint professionals?

The Washington elite, the frequently corrupt lawyers (that is the Senate & House of Representatives for new readers) elected to represent us, agreed with the EPA overseers, the unelected, often proven incompetent at handling facts, to “update/modernize” the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). The plain truth about the new law: it is not business as usual or a routine tune-up on the family minivan. It is more like a giant, remote-operated alien bomber set into the sky for attack. In an instant, any unassuming small business may be destroyed by a spewing laser blast from a dark, underground Agency enclave

The White House Cheerleading Team…

When the President signs the EPA’s long sought after power play, perhaps using twelve different pens, new authority will be granted and many familiar aspects of common sense rule making will be taken away. The main trouble with the Orwellian law is that it gives the EPA extraordinary capacity to implement rules, and license to ignore small business impacts. This new and unrestrained setup is a surefire plan for pushing over burdensome, poorly vetted and unjustified regulations.

Incidentally, Mr. Obama wholly supports making the EPA bigger and conceivably a more lethal weapon capable of swinging their already overstuffed 8.3 billion dollar annual budget at us. Remember how truthful the administration was about the now unpopular Obamacare? “If you like your doctor/health plan, you can keep it”. The Death Ray law is a copy-cat.

The administration emphasized half a dozen points where the EPA will exercise unrivalled power.

Here are just two examples:

1. The Agency will be able to make new rules -expand regulation justification – based on “vulnerable populations”, which goes beyond saving the children. Now they can save the elderly, the sick and those with health conditions. Translation: “Find a weakness or a nice little hazard for a subgroup; say 1 or 2 percent of 75 year olds and Buta-Bing a new regulation”.

“Vulnerable populations” may sound innocent enough until we consider how the EPA twisted data to push the RRP rule. It is a familiar trick, use inapplicable, if not corrupt data to justify…all the while; “disingenuously” swinging the save the kids banner (an overused subgroup).

Remember the weird EPA Renovation, Repair and Painting (RRP) science? You know the “old switcharoo – interchangeable fake facts”. The Agency conveniently forgot to separate wholesale paint removal from everyday repaint preparation. How nice of the EPA to highlight that power grinders, needle guns (who uses them anymore?) and burning (really?) send out more dust/fumes than wet or dry scraping, spot vacuum power sanding and hand sanding. But the EPA “studies” weighted all of those tasks as equal and each was portrayed under a “typical” procedure.

Anyone with common sense knows that paint stripping is not typical for repainting. During the push for commercial RRP, it is interesting that the Agency forgot to sneak in another removal procedure under typical preparation; chemical stripping. Wonder why… apparently, it does not fit the EPA’s data need. Chemical stripping does not generate a substantial dust hazard.

2. Of course, the Obama administration could not help mentioning another small business killer: the EPA’s new bottomless bank vault or laser-gun ammunition depot. The Orwellian Death Ray allows the Agency to levy fines and keep the money. Along with the already oversized 8.3 billion dollar yearly spend; the Washington elites approved a new mechanism for unelected Agency bureaucrats to generate limitless revenue at our expense.

Since when is it a good idea for any federal faction to operate with financial autonomy?

It seems that the White House is delighted with the idea of having the EPA gain a path to unrestricted money generation. The Administration labelled it a “source of funding”. How wonderful…can’t wait to see how the money improves the Agency’s fairness towards and consideration for small business challenges.

Maybe, the Orwellian laser-gun law will prove to be more detrimental than the infamous healthcare “improvement”?

We are from the government and we are here to help you…

Another surreal, unbelievable feature of the Orwellian law is that the EPA will be allowed to establish facts and procedures to rationalize making regulations. Under the tag “guidance”, the Agency will no longer be required to meet the standard of empirical evidence to substantiate a hazard. Translation: the scientific proof requirement was deleted.  The Agency can just make “models” and publish a “framework” to show (“fake”) hazards. Basically, they can self-justify new regulations pointing the Death Ray at paint professionals and small businesses and fire at will. Or in Agency speak: develop lots of rules to save everyone from everything.

While the concept of unproven facts or special bureaucratic privilege, termed guidance, gives the EPA more power, it all but erases the current standard of demonstrating scientific proof. The Agency has had a difficult time sticking to the empirical evidence standard and getting those same findings verified independently to make new rules. Maybe that “proven stuff” is harder to twist in the way needed for the EPA to blast us with needless regulations? So when it comes to actual science, it was probably easier to get the elected do nothings to hit the delete button.

The EPA must have got extra help along the way…

Maybe the Washington elites asked, “What else can we do to help the EPA grow from an unpredictable Cleveland-like gorilla to a 10,000 pound ill-intentioned, laser touting beast”? Likely with drooling mouths, the Agency’s answer could have been something like this, “the small business input and financial impact considerations are slowing us down…hit delete again”.

Behold, the Washington elites helped both go away. The Orwellian Death Ray removes mandatory small business input and financial impacts. Now, the EPA has authority to waterfall new regulations without a single care towards paint professionals or any small business for that matter. What happened to the common sense rulemaking provisions? Suppose there should be no cause for concern, does anyone think we can rely on the Agency to replace the private sector input, facts, and fair and substantive provisions with EPA-styled, privileged guidance?

Ready; jump; 1, 2, 3; get set…

The idea of the Washington elites voting in major laws that are not clearly defined or complete, like Obamacare, does not seem to bode well for the people. To say the least, the surprises are usually not fun and often there are stipulations that defy reason. Most likely, the EPA will spend years “developing” their ‘guidance”, which keeps the Agency in control, and the justification of new rule’s rationale a moving target. Throw in the constant “improvements” excuse and any real accountability becomes a shimmering illusion. Imagine, unelected bureaucrats telling us what is best, independently enforcing what they order and keeping the money they charge?

Lucky for us we can rest assured that the Agency understands small business challenges or maybe the private sector way works better: Ready; get set; 1, 2, 3;  jump.

Two points of interest…

First, the Washington elites were pushing back against the Death Ray law until big business got what they wanted. Paint manufacturers and chemical producers lawyered and lobbied up until the EPA eased off on their part of the attack. The final version of the law is a backroom negotiated comprise between billion dollar companies and the Agency’s cronies. The few protections in the law are designed for most anyone that has lawyers and lobbyists on retainer…not paint professionals.

It is noggin-scratching to see the amazing shift from the chemical guys fighting with protest letters (a few years ago) to the recent gushing endorsements of “the much needed TSCA modernization.”

Second, the EPA has been trying to expand RRP since 2010. The funny thing on the way to the regulation forum is that the Agency has little to zero science justifying the commercial and public building RRP expansion. Back in 2014, they conjured up a “framework” and then came up with some “models”, which attempted to show that we are all lucky to avoid paint-based lead encroachment merely by walking past a public building.

The real truth is more like the framework ploy was a glimpse of the EPA’s new standard operating procedure. Rather than science, the Agency aims to rely on their “reasonable conclusions” to push more and more regulations.  The RRP “models” were incompetent attempts at justifying more rules; so incompetent high school students could have done a better job. Even the “independent” science advisors (mostly long time EPA booster club members, nicknamed the “lead heads”) assigned (paid by the EPA) to review the Agency’s “project” could not give the pathetic RRP expansion proposal a thumbs up.

Punch hard or go home…

So anyone can see that the TSCA has not been modernized, it has been thrown out completely. In its place, the EPA has setup an Agency knows-all, giant regulations making laser. What is the RRP take away? When arranging irrelevant data for predetermined results fails, change the law to make rule-making easier and small business and paint professionals beware. It appears that the EPA will wait to use the Death Ray muscle to enact the commercial and public building RRP regardless of any real need. In the last six years, they simply have not produced any true scientific reasons.

The small business solution is ugly, but simple: we fight back with evidence and eventually the bureaucrats may pension out and those remaining may be easier to confuse with facts. The melee has been going on for years. When it comes to stepping into the non-government ring (actually understanding the private sector), the EPA has been a long-time, over compensated loser. But the back alley Orwellian victory, likely stolen in the dark of night, puts the Agency upright again.

Paint professionals must swing in defense; leading with lightning-fast, fact jabs, bobbing, weaving and then landing a fury of common sense counter punches.

A parting quiz:

What do you get when a horde of overpaid EPA lawyers drafts a bill for the Washington elite do nothing for the people lawyers to vote on, while big business lawyers lobby and fight for big company interests?

That’s an easy one: more lawyer work.

By the way, the Orwellian Death Ray law’s name has changed a few times over the last several years. It is currently known as the “Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act”.

Random information for the brave ones still reading….

Look at the chart, noticed that only about a quarter of the 1960-1977 homes contain lead-based paint, yet the EPA weighted that “data” equal to the two older eras for the RRP rule. Also, the Agency is woefully inaccurate in their assumptions that homes before 1940 still have original windows and trim. Many have been renovated, which removed lead based paint trim or at least greatly lessened the overall content.

CDC Chart

If you divide the sum of the children with highest Blood Lead Levels (not proven to have occurred from contractors) of 105,966 into the total population of children under 6 years old (24,258,220 divided by 105,966), the answer is 0.0044 percent. That number is way less than 1%. Let’s acknowledge that each child is important and we all want the best of health and life for the young and innocent. From the CDC numbers, it appears that very, very tiny percent might make common sense people conclude that the lead is not an epidemic. In fact, many more children suffer other more serious ailments.

Regarding Blood Lead Levels in Young Children (directly from the CDC report)

The CDC* states in part:

“Lead exposure adversely affects the cognitive development and behavior of young children (1). For children aged <6 years, CDC has defined an elevated blood lead level (BLL) as >10 µg/dL, but evidence exists for subtle effects at lower levels (2). Data from CDC’s Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, Phase 2 (1991–1994) (NHANES) showed that average BLLs in children had decreased approximately 80% since the late 1970s but that elevated BLLs remained more common among low-income children, urban children, and those living in older housing…”

Why does every house in America need to follow RRP, when the CDC established that the lead dust remnants trend is diminishing and occurs most commonly in government subsidized, city housing?

Also, notice that the EPA uses the .05 as elevated BLL (actual poisoning occurs much higher), while the CDC defines elevated BLL as greater than 10, which is more than ten times higher…..It will interesting to see what the Agency juggles to the surface for “guidance” in such matters….

Sources: *Centers For Disease Control & Prevention (CDC)

http://www.cdc.gov/nceh/lead/data/Website_StateConfirmedByYear_1997_2014_01112016.htm

http://www.statista.com/statistics/183635/number-of-households-in-the-us/

http://www.census.gov/newsroom/releases/archives/facts_for_features_special_editions/cb12-ffse01.html

http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm4950a3.htm

http://www.epw.senate.gov/public/_cache/files/8a872bd9-f2df-41ea-8893-ad7bc9250600/executive-office-of-the-president.pdf

http://www.epw.senate.gov/public/_cache/files/aa2ac4d1-15bb-4e71-9588-909d49bdcff2/tsca-reform-marketing-packet-5.19-final.pdf


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