ANNAPOLIS, Md. (Feb. 28, 2000)—Maryland tire dealers are up in arms about a quartet of state bills they claim will hamper efforts to rid Maryland of illegally dumped scrap tires.
Among this legislation is a Maryland House of Delegates bill which would subject those who use scrap tires for "commercial gain" to fines of up to $25,000 and imprisonment of up to five years for all violations—major and minor—of state scrap tire disposal statutes. Others would face smaller but still substantial penalties.
There is no way to measure the damage this bill could cause if it is made law, said Mike Kress, president of Marlboro Tire, Upper Marlboro, Md., and of the Maryland Tire Dealers Association.
Not long ago, one of Mr. Kress´ customers brought in 10 used tires to Marlboro Tire, which Mr. Kress accepted as a favor to him.
"If that bill were law today, I´d be facing a $25,000 fine and five years´ imprisonment, because I accepted tires from someone who wasn´t a licensed hauler," he said. "And my customer would be fined $10,000, because anyone who hauls more than five scrap tires a year in Maryland must be a licensed hauler."
Almost as onerous, according to Mr. Kress, is a Maryland Senate bill which would allow the state to draw from its Used Tire Cleanup and Recycling Fund over the next three years for a project to remove nutrients from publicly owned sewage treatment works. The allowable amount to be drawn from the fund would be $5 million in fiscal year 2001, $3 million in FY 2002 and $1 million in FY 2003.
Since Feb. 1, 1992, Maryland tire sellers have had to collect a $1 scrap tire fee on every new tire sold. In 1999, according to Mr. Kress, they collected slightly more than $5 million during the entire year, and the fund has about $11 million in reserve. This would make the sewage treatment proposal a horrible drain on the fund, to attain a goal that does nothing to further scrap tire abatement, he said.
The other two bills are a:
* Senate bill to transfer the Used Tire Cleanup and Recycling Fund to the Maryland Environmental Service from the Department of the Environment; and
* House bill to earmark up to 25 percent of the scrap tire fund for mosquito control.
While the mosquito control bill at least has a rationale behind it—the danger of illegal tire dumps becoming breeding grounds for disease-carrying mosquitoes—none of the bills would be of any help in solving Maryland´s scrap tire problems, Mr. Kress said.
What further galls Mr. Kress is that now maybe 3 or 4 cents of every dollar collected for the scrap tire fund actually goes to scrap tire cleanup. Of the $5 million collected last year, he said, only about $150,000-$200,000 went for scrap tires, the rest going for such things as administrative costs and state projects for parks and playgrounds.
"We are outraged at being made to be indentured collectors of a fraudulent tax," said Mr. Kress, who wants the state to establish a task force to rededicate the scrap tire fund and devise incentives for scrap tire recycling.
Tire dealers, haulers and recyclers, along with energy generators and cement kiln operators, could join state legislators and officials "to sit down together and hash out what needs to be done," he said.
For example, the state could use part of the fund to help energy plants and cement kilns retool for use of tire-derived fuel, Mr. Kress said. "Or else a licensed hauler could get 75 cents for each tire he collects, and another 75 cents for each tire he delivers to a recycling center," he said. "That would make sure that the tire makes it to the place it´s supposed to go."
Mr. Kress testified in Annapolis against the sewage treatment bill at a Feb. 1 hearing before the Senate Economic and Environmental Affairs Committee, and against the penalties bill at a Feb. 15 hearing before the House Environmental Matters Committee. There have been no hearings as yet on the other two bills.