The EPA press team took a break from handling Scott Pruitt’s mounting ethics scandals to put out a press release related to one big win for the agency: fining reality-TV stars for improperly handling lead-based paint.
Magnolia Homes, the company run by Chip and Joanna Gaines, the husband-and-wife stars of HGTV’s popular “Fixer Upper,” settled with the EPA over allegations that they broke rules over the safe handling of lead paint during home renovations. They’ll pay a fine of $40,000 and their company will do $160,000 worth of lead abatement, under EPA supervision, in Waco, Texas, where their business is based.
The EPA caught on watching their TV show, noticing that they weren’t quite handling lead-based paint correctly.
“Through this settlement, Magnolia is putting in place safeguards to ensure the safety of its renovation work and making meaningful contributions toward the protection of children and vulnerable communities from exposure to lead-based paint,” Susan Bodine, the assistant administrator in the E.P.A.’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance, said in a statement.
The EPA got in touch with Magnolia three years ago, and they “took immediate steps to bring its activities into compliance,” John Marsicano, a spokesman for the company, said in a statement.
After an episode of the home-makeover show aired, Chip took to Twitter to address people’s questions about their use of possible lead-based paint in homes.
Using lead-based paint in homes was banned in 1978, due to the serious health consequences of lead exposure, which are especially dire for children.
Fining reality-TV stars might look good for the EPA — and it's certainly a welcome distraction from the many scandals plaguing administrator Pruitt— but fines from the agency are down significantly overall, according to an independent analysis by the New York Times. During Pruitt’s first nine months, the agency fined polluters about $50.4 million. That’s about 39 percent of Obama-administration fines over the same time frame for that EPA.
Cover: In this March 29, 2016 photo, Joanna Gaines, left, and Chip Gaines pose for a portrait in New York to promote their home improvement show, "Fixer Upper," on HGTV. (Photo by Brian Ach/Invision/AP)