Senate Committee Advances Cafe Bill With RMA-Supported Tire Efficiency Information Program

For more information contact:
Dan Zielinski
(202) 682-4846
dzielinski@rma.org

WASHINGTON, D.C.May 8, 2007 - The Senate Commerce Committee today approved S. 357, legislation concerning Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards. Included in the bill is language to create a tire rolling resistance consumer information program supported by the Rubber Manufacturers Association.

S. 357 was amended by Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) to include the RMA-supported language. The provision is similar to HR 5632, which passed the House Energy and Commerce Committee last year.

“RMA deeply appreciates Sen. Cantwell’s willingness to work with us to advance this issue, which, if enacted, will give consumers a valuable tool to use when purchasing tires,” said Dan Zielinski, RMA vice president. “Committee staff on both sides of the aisle was extremely helpful in this effort to include the RMA-supported amendment. We will continue to work with Sen. Cantwell, the Commerce Committee and other senators to advance our position in support of a consumer information program.”

The Committee will file this legislation to be considered on the Senate floor. No time table for full Senate consideration has been determined.

Yesterday, Sen. Cantwell had filed a tire fuel efficiency amendment to S. 357 that RMA opposed. After RMA contacted Sen. Cantwell’s office, RMA worked cooperatively to advance its position supporting a tire rolling resistance consumer information program.

The Cantwell amendment would direct the Secretary of Transportation to promulgate a rule which establishes a national mandatory tire fuel efficiency consumer information requirement for tires, including those tires suitable for cars, minivans, SUVs and light duty trucks containing the following elements:

  • Consumer Information. Congress should authorize and make sufficient resources available to NHTSA to allow it to gather and report information on the influence of individual passenger tires on vehicle fuel consumption.
    • Point-of-sale Information: Congress would ensure that the information is widely available in a timely manner and is easily understood by both buyers and sellers.
    • Rating system: Federal regulation would include an efficiency rating system to facilitate more informed purchasing decisions in the area of tire energy efficiency by allowing comparisons of various tire choices.
  • Tire Care and Maintenance: The bill would require that the tire fuel efficiency information include an explanation of the importance of proper tire inflation pressure maintenance.
  • National Program: Congress would create a national consumer information and education program to avoid duplicative and potentially conflicting state requirements that would confuse consumers.
  • Applicability: This provision would apply to new tires for use on passenger vehicles.
  • Test methods and requirements: The bill would require selection of a test method to be used by manufacturers in developing consumer information to avoid variation among test equipment and manufacturers.
  • Compliance and enforcement: Congress would provide for adequate compliance and enforcement to ensure an equal playing field for all manufacturers selling tires in the U.S.

Sen. Cantwell’s proposal is consistent with the April 4, 2006 National Academy of Sciences Transportation Research Board report, “Tires and Passenger Vehicle Fuel Economy (TRB Special Report).” That report recommends that Congress adopt a national program to inform and educate consumers about the influence of passenger tires on vehicle fuel consumption and the crucial role tire maintenance plays in vehicle fuel economy.

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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.

RMA Testifies Against Maryland “Tire Efficiency” Measure

For more information contact:
Dan Zielinski
(202) 682-4846
dzielinski@rma.org

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.