WASHINGTON-A proposed 45-cents-per-pound tax on lead, which lead-acid battery producers called ``discriminatory,'' is now moribund, as Capitol Hill sources agreed it won't be considered this year. Introduced last year in the House and Senate, the Lead-based Paint Hazard Abatement Trust Fund Act would have instituted the tax to pay for removal of lead-based paint in low-income housing and other buildings. Lead-based paint has been linked to brain damage and various illnesses in children.
Representatives of the lead-acid battery industry said the tax would have caused the price of lead to triple, which would have added $10 to the price of U.S. auto batteries, reducing consumer demand and making them non-competitive with foreign products.
Battery makers support the cleanup of lead paint, but feel it can be accomplished by enforcing current laws, said Graham Spurling, president of GNB Battery Technologies. ``Where's the environmental protection in taxing a product that's being recycled at more than 95 percent, more than any other consumer product?'' he asked. ``Where's the environmental benefit in hampering the development of clean electric vehicles by driving up the cost of battery-powered cars?''