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California Appeals court orders EPA to speed lead paint regulations

A panel of three judges from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Wednesday that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) needs to modernize regulations governing the use of lead paint quickly after new information on its dangers was revealed.

Before the decision, the EPA told the panel that updated regulations taking into account the new data would be developed within six years. Finding the agency had “unreasonably delayed” making the new rules, the 9th Circuit gave the agency a much shorter timeline — 90 days — to revise and issue updated rules.

“We must observe, however, that EPA has already taken eight years, wants to delay at least six more, and has disavowed any interest in working with petitioners to develop an appropriate timeline through mediation,” the court ruling states. “We are also mindful of the severe risks to children of lead poisoning under EPA’s admittedly insufficient standards.”

The petitioners, a coalition of environmental and public safety groups, asked the EPA in 2009 for stricter regulations governing the distribution and use of lead paint. Although the agency approved the petition, it declined to give a timeline when the new rules would be crafted and implemented. In 2016, the petitioners then asked the 9th Circuit to intervene and force the EPA to develop new regulations, the Washington Examiner reports.

The agency set standards in 2001 for lead contamination levels in dust and soil at the homes, but has acknowledged since then that scientific research has shown the need for tougher restrictions.

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