House Committee Approves Measure That Threatens Manufacturers’ Proprietary Business Information

Increased Disclosure of Early Warning Information May Harm Tire Makers in U.S

For more information contact:
Dan Zielinski
(202) 682-4846

WASHINGTON, D.C.May 28, 2010 – A House committee approved legislation this week that requires the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to make public more information that is reported to the agency by automobile, tire and automotive parts manufacturers.

The Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA) voiced a number of concerns with the Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 2010, HR 5381. The group has voiced similar concerns with a companion measure in the Senate, S 3302.

“RMA strongly supports and our members fully comply with the current early warning reporting system to provide federal safety regulators with information to help enhance motorist safety,” said Charles Cannon, RMA president and CEO. “However, RMA and its members are very concerned that this bill may result in NHTSA disclosing critical business information that will cause competitive harm to manufacturers in the U.S.”

A 2000 federal law mandated NHTSA’s Early Warning Reporting System. Automotive industry manufacturers are required to report substantial amounts of production and performance data and consumer claims to the agency to assist federal safety officials with identifying potential safety issues. Consumer claims regarding fatalities, injuries and property damage claims are currently made public on NHTSA’s web site.

When NHTSA created the Early Warning Reporting System, it also created categories of information that would be protected from public disclosure as confidential business information. For tire manufacturers, this included production data, warranty claims and common green tires, which are tires that have not been cured.

“NHTSA conducted a rigorous process using strict Freedom of Information Act principles to develop a federal regulation that balanced public disclose of some early warning information with the need to protect some critical business data it receives each quarter from manufacturers,” Cannon said.

The Motor Vehicle Safety Act also includes a mandate requiring a brake override system in vehicles to help prevent the possibility of sudden unintended acceleration. Additionally, the measure gives NHTSA the authority to declare that a vehicle, tire or automotive part presents an “imminent hazard” to motorist safety. Such a declaration would allow the agency to impose a range of remedies to force manufacturers to address a potential safety issue.

The bill also boosts federal penalties on manufacturers for safety-related issues to a maximum of $200 million. The House version would allow individuals to sue the agency if they disagree with an agency determination in answering a petition to investigate a possible vehicle defect.

“Permitting lawsuits to overturn NHTSA’s thorough investigation of potential safety issues would force the agency to divert critical resources to redundant tasks and legal defenses to answer likely lawsuit challenges to defect petition decisions,” Cannon said.

The House bill is expected to go to the House floor in the coming weeks. A Senate committee is expected to consider its version of the bill in early June.

“We will continue to engage with legislators and work toward a reasonable solution that enhances motorist safety while addressing the risk to RMA members’ competitive business information posed by this bill,” Cannon said.

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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.

Colorado Senate Committee Approves Scrap Tire Measure

 Bill Directs More Resources to Cleanup, Enforcement and Market Development

For more information contact:
Dan Zielinski
(202) 682-4846

WASHINGTON, D.C.April 15, 2010 – A Colorado Senate Committee approved comprehensive legislation this week to reform the state’s scrap tire laws. More than 60 million stockpiled scrap tires are in Colorado — one of the few states where piles are growing.

The Rubber Manufacturers Association, representing tire manufacturers in the U.S., has been working to change Colorado’s scrap tire law since the last changes were made to the program several years ago. RMA testified in favor of the legislation this week.

HB 1018, which passed the House in March, was unanimously approved by the Colorado Senate Transportation Committee. The measure will next be considered by the Senate Finance Committee.

“HB 1018 is the result of eight months of negotiation among all major scrap tire stakeholders in Colorado,” said Michael Blumenthal, RMA vice president, who testified in support of HB 1018. “If enacted, Colorado will be able to address some of the gaps in their program, while focusing on market development and continued stockpile abatement.”

Colorado currently imposes a $1.50 fee on new tires that should be used for enforcement of state scrap tire regulations, cleanup of waste tire piles and market development.

“Unfortunately, Colorado has not effectively managed scrap tires,” Blumenthal said. “The state has the greatest number of tires in stockpiles in the nation and unless the system is changed, those piles will continue to grow.”

HB 1018 would:

  • Place more of the scrap tire funds directly into scrap tire activities.
  • Consolidates all waste tire programs under the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) and establishes new requirements for scrap tire market development, fire planning and prevention, waste tire hauler regulations, and waste tire facility regulations.
  • Creates regulations that will benefit the state and the scrap tire industry, closes gaps in the regulation that will decrease the incidence of unlawful dumping of tires.
  • Creates an advisory committee that can provide on going review and evaluation of the program that will increase the likelihood of constant improvement to the program.

“We will continue to press Colorado lawmakers to enact this legislation,” Blumenthal said. “The measure is long overdue and urgently needed. We are grateful to the House and Senate sponsors of this legislation and will work with them to see this bill enacted.”

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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.

Tire Makers Propose Tire Fuel Efficiency Rating System

Five Category System Would Maximize Tire Choices for ConsumersRMA Comments submitted to NHTSA

For more information contact:
Dan Zielinski
(202) 682-4846

WASHINGTON, D.C.August 24, 2009 – Tire manufacturers are proposing a tire fuel efficiency rating system that is more likely to assist motorists to choose fuel efficient replacement tires than a system proposed by federal regulators.

In written comments to a proposed tire fuel efficiency consumer information regulation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the Rubber Manufacturers Association said its members believe that to establish effective consumer information requirements regarding tire efficiency, the program must meet the following:

• Provide information at point of sale;
• Provide meaningful information that is easy to understand by consumers;
• Provide a wide range of tire efficiency choices across the rating scale to each consumer about replacement tire choices appropriate for the consumer’s existing vehicle;
• Be cost effective to minimize the cost effect of this information to consumers.

RMA supports a five category rating system that maximizes the tire efficiency choices across the rating scale for available to each consumer.

“Since consumers shopping for replacement tires are limited in their tire selections by requirements of their existing vehicle, it is important to design a rating system that maximizes the tire efficiency choices across the rating scale for each consumer. The appeal of a rating system will depend on whether a consumer has “good” choices appropriate for his vehicle across the rating scale,” RMA wrote.

In June, NHTSA proposed a tire fuel efficiency rating system that would be printed on a paper label on every replacement passenger tire sold in the U.S. The rating system would rank tire fuel efficiency on a 0-100 point scale. The proposed rule also would rate wet traction capability and tread wear. The regulation was required by energy legislation enacted by Congress in 2007. RMA advocated in favor of the provision to create a tire fuel efficiency consumer information program.

RMA said that NHTSA’s proposed rating approach would not provide consumers with useful information about fuel efficiency of replacement tires suitable for their vehicles. Under the NHTSA proposal, a typical consumer shopping for a replacement tire for a specific vehicle would have a choice only along approximately a 20 to 30 point spread on the 100 point scale.

“The proposed rating scale gives consumers an illusory view of the tire efficiency choices available to them for their vehicle and does not assist consumers in purchasing fuel efficient tires for their vehicle,” RMA wrote. “On the other hand, this rating approach encourages consumers to purchase smaller tires and could promote the purchase of tires with inadequate load-carrying capacity to safely carry the load of the vehicle. Although many tire dealers would discourage and in many cases would not sell a tire with a rated load capacity insufficient for the vehicle, NHTSA should not promote a system that could lead to this type of safety concern.”

RMA said that NHTSA should develop a system that promotes tire efficiency, regardless of vehicle class.

“Unfortunately, since the proposed system would not favorably rate any tires suitable for larger vehicles, it would send the message to owners of these vehicles that they have no fuel efficient tire choices, so they should not base tire purchasing decisions on this information,” RMA wrote.

RMA also expressed opposition to the propose tire rating system label as a means of providing point of sale information to consumers.

“RMA proposes that NHTSA mandate that tire retailers have the rating information available to consumers in the dealer showroom or waiting area. RMA recommends that NHTSA give tire retailers options for making this information available and require that each retailer choose one or more options that suits their business model and needs. Options could include: tire manufacturer brochures, tire manufacturer product catalogues, in-store online access to the NHTSA website, tire manufacturer websites or the tire retailer’s website containing the rating information,” RMA stated.

RMA estimates that initial costs for manufacturer testing and reporting would range from $14,657,250 to $53,157,440, while annual costs range from $12,280,322 to $34,745,722. Initial costs for the proposed tire labeling requirements would range from $21,921,745 to $30,641,745, while the annual cost estimates range from $11,543,764 to $16,782,340. RMA said in its comments that NHTSA underestimated industry costs.

“The tire industry has long supported the concept of providing information to consumers about its products at point of sale and welcomes the opportunity to begin providing consumer information about a tire’s contribution to vehicle fuel economy,” RMA said.

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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.