RMA Testifies Against Maryland “Tire Efficiency” Measure

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Dan Zielinski
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WASHINGTON, D.C.March 7, 2007 – Maryland legislators should forgo consideration of state “tire efficiency” standards on tire makers and support a national consumer education program on tire rolling resistance, according to the Rubber Manufacturers Association in testimony today before a House committee.

“The tire industry is committed to working with policymakers to provide information and education about tire manufacturing processes, tire performance characteristics, scrap tire market development and tire maintenance,” said Tracey Norberg, RMA vice president and deputy general counsel. “RMA appreciates the opportunity to discuss HB 608 and to inform the committee about policy developments in the area of tire energy efficiency over the past four years.”

The proposed legislation would create a consumer information program and rating system for tire rolling resistance and it would require minimum efficiency standards for all tires.

Norberg explained that attempts to emphasize tire fuel efficiency over other tire performance traits would have tradeoffs. She noted the relationship among tire rolling resistance, traction and tread wear and said that tire manufacturers would not compromise on safety.

Norberg also indicated that mandates for low rolling resistance tires would exacerbate scrap tire management issues. A 2006 RMA Scrap Tire Market Report illustrated the vast improvement in scrap tire management since 1990 that has reduced scrap tire stockpiles from 1 billion to fewer than 200 million tires and has helped markets for scrap tires soar from an 11 percent recovery rate to nearly 87 percent.

While California enacted tire efficiency legislation in 2003, Norberg said that the state has yet to promulgate regulations for either consumer information or performance standards. Also, tire testing by California regulators is not yet complete. RMA was able to secure some safeguards to the California legislation to forbid state performance standards if tire safety, tire longevity or the state’s scrap tire situation would be negatively affected.

RMA told Maryland lawmakers that an April 2006 National Academy of Sciences report recommended consumer information on tire rolling resistance in addition to improved consumer tire maintenance to help motorists optimize their fuel economy without limiting tire choices.

“A national program would obviate the need for states to develop their own consumer education programs and facilitate nationwide distribution of tire efficiency consumer information,” Norberg said. “A single, nationwide program would allow citizens in all states to make more informed tire purchasing decisions and avoid duplicative and potentially conflicting state requirements that would confuse consumers.”

Norberg concluded, “RMA recommends that Maryland forgo HB 608 in favor of a national program to address this issue. I am happy to keep this Committee and any appropriate regulatory agencies up to date on relevant developments on this issue.”

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The Rubber Manufacturers Association is the national trade association for the rubber products industry. Its members include companies that manufacture various rubber products, including tires, hoses, belts, seals, molded goods, and other finished rubber products. RMA members employ over 120,000 workers and account for more than $21 billion in annual sales.