The low number of RRP Certified Firms proves that the EPA's efforts to bring contractors into RRP compliance is failing. RRP compliant contractors we speak with, from Mass, NH, Maine, R.I., Conn, Pa, and New York, are justifably concerned that they will have to compete against contractors who do not include the costs of RRP practices. Contractors tell me everyday that they are losing jobs to non compliant contractors including illegal aliens, laid off construction workers, moonlighting fireman, teachers and munincipal employees. Contractors tell us that the underground contracting community is growing larger because the RRP Law is pushing more contractors to work illegally. Consumers are telling contractors that they do not want to pay additional costs associated with RRP. Consumers already under economic pressures, are eager to hire illegal contractors and take their chances. Last week I was told by a remodeler that he lost 4 projects this month to contractors who are not RRP registered in the State of Massachusetts or with the EPA. These jobs are on properties built before 1900!
How to find out if a firm is certified with the EPA
If you what to find out if a contractor is Certified use the link below. Many contractors who are losing jobs on pre 1978 properties are interested in checking to see if the contractor who won the job is RRP Certified. Too their chagrin they are discovering that these contractors are non compliant with the EPA RRP Lead Law.
Certified Firms in the Northeast by State
Here is a chart of up to date Certified Firms in Northeastern States. I added the population of each state so you could see the percentage of Certified Firms to population.
|New York||7326||19.5 million||.0003|
|New Hampshire||1002||1.3 million||.0007|
|Rhode Island||103||1 million||.0001|
The states listed above have approximately 45.1 million people and 20,353 certified firms. In Mass, I estimate that there are over 100,000 contractors and trades people to be certified. In addition, property owners, maintenance workers, housing authorities and non profits will add another 100,000 plus. In essence, approximately 3% of the population of Massachusetts will need to become certified to comply with the existing RRP Lead Law. Right now we have under 5,000 who are RRP complaint. This means that any contractor who is not certified in the state of Massachusetts, they cannot offer to work or work on pre 1978 properties. In EPA regulated states, any contractor who was not a Certified Firm by 10/1/2010 they are non-compliant and cannot work on pre 1978 homes.
The majority of certified firms are contractors. There are very few landlords. Sub trades are trying to avoid the law like the plague. Cities and towns who have maintenance workers barely know about the law. Building inspectors are just starting to find out about the law and want nothing to do with it. Housing authorities cannot afford to get their people trained.
We see many contractors spending thousands of dollars to be legal and compliant with the EPA RRP Lead Law. However, they believe they are being punished and discriminated against due to the lack of enforcement and education that the EPA is suppose to see through.
I spoke with the EPA this week and found that their RRP programs are understaffed and they have not been given the needed funding to do their job. The officials I have dealt with tell me that most of their enforcement is through documentation. Most enforcement actions are due to phone calls from compliant contractors calling on those who are working illegally. It is likely that documentation will be the key enforcement mechanism to catch contractors.
I will continue to keep you up to date on RRP enforcement issues.