SANTA FE, N.M.-New Mexico, one of three states that has lacked a scrap tire management program, has passed a tire recycling act aimed at promoting the use of rubber-modified asphalt. On March 8, Gov. Bruce King signed into law a tire recycling measure-similar to one he vetoed a year ago-requiring the estimated 1.5 million tires New Mexicans throw away each year to be disposed of at recycling facilities beginning in October 1995. The state expects to adopt a set of tire disposal regulations by March 1995.
The new law calls for the permitting of tire recycling facilities and limits tire disposal to only those permitted facilities. It also directs the state Environment Department to develop a tire recycling and abatement program by surveying and evaluating existing tire dumps and tire processing facilities in the state, determining the number of tires stockpiled at various locations, assessing markets and disposal options and determining the number of tire retreaders and how many casings they retread annually.
The Environment Department already has begun inventorying scrap tire piles through an emergency funding provision of the bill. Gerald Silva, chief of the department's solid waste bureau, estimated there are about 20 million scrap tires stockpiled in the state.
He said the legislation offers broad opportunities for developing a scrap tire recycling program and, once the tire stockpile and market situations are analyzed, the state can work on identifying the best means of handling and recycling tires.
The state plans to fund its tire recycling program with $1.5 million that would be generated annually through a new $1 tax on auto licenses, with a sliding scale for other vehicles.
About 45 percent of the money is designated for a rubberized asphalt fund to reimburse the state Highway and Transportation Department and local governments for the additional cost of using rubberized asphalt in their paving projects.
The emphasis on alternative asphalt stems from the recently enacted federal Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act, which requires states to begin using a percentage of rubber-modified asphalt in federally funded highway projects or risk losing federal highway money.
The remaining 55 percent of the revenue will go into a tire recycling fund to support tire dump abatement projects, as well as grants and loans for the establishment of tire recycling facilities. The fund also will provide up to $75,000 in rebates to promote the use of retreaded tires.
State Sen. Roman Maes, D-Santa Fe, who sponsored scrap tire legislation for the past five years and whose bill the governor vetoed last year, suggested the governor was motivated by this year's elections.
But a spokesman for the governor said Mr. King vetoed the bill last year because he didn't want vehicle registration fees increased in the same year the gasoline tax was raised.
Jim Shook of Shook Tire Co. Inc. in Las Cruces, and a director of the National Tire Dealers & Retreaders Association, said earlier tire recycling bills included a $2 license fee. He believed the current fund appropriation isn't sufficient, but ``it's a step in the right direction.'' Dealers for the most part support the legislation, he said.
Mr. Shook speculated that the scrap tire regulations were held up for years by the ``pure politics of writing (provisions) to everyone's liking.''
Alaska and Delaware are the only states without laws or regulations for scrap tire disposal.
Associated Press writer Deborah Baker contributed to this report.