The California legislature has passed a bill requiring energy efficiency standards for replacement tires-but not before adding several amendments to deflect opposition from the tire industry.
The California Senate passed the amended legislation Sept. 4 by a 25-13 vote. The California Assembly-which passed the original bill June 4-concurred with the amendments Sept. 8, sending the bill to Gov. Gray Davis for his signature.
As passed, the bill directs the State Energy Resources Conservation and Development Commission, in consultation with the California Integrated Waste Management Board, to adopt a statewide energy efficiency program for replacement tires by July 1, 2007, and implement it by July 1, 2008.
However, the bill sets several stipulations for the energy efficiency standard. It must be technically feasible and cost-effective; must not adversely affect tire safety or tire life; and it must not interfere with California's efforts to manage scrap tires.
The standards are to be based on the results of both laboratory testing and an onroad fleet-testing program developed by tire manufacturers in consultation with state officials. Results of both testing programs are to be submitted to the commission by Jan. 1, 2006.
Also, by July 1, 2006, the commission must develop the following:
* A database of the energy efficiency of a representative sample of replacement tires sold in California, based on test procedures adopted by the commission;
* A rating system for the energy efficiency of replacement tires sold in California; and
* Requirements for tire manufacturers to report to the commission on the energy efficiency of the replacement tires they sell in the state.
The Rubber Manufacturers Association, which bitterly opposed the legislation when it was first introduced, takes a neutral stand on the bill as passed, according to Ann Wilson, RMA senior vice president for government affairs.
``We recognized that there was a political will to pass this bill, so we worked with its authors and sponsors to reflect the current status of knowledge about rolling resistance,'' Ms. Wilson said. The energy efficiency database and ``real-world'' testing of tires alleviate the impact of the legislation, she added.
But Becky MacDicken, government affairs director for the Tire Industry Association, held out the hope-however fragile-that Mr. Davis might not sign the bill.
``We're not surprised it passed-it looked like it would all along,'' Ms. MacDicken said. ``But with the political climate in California today, there's a chance the governor may listen to tire dealers about their concerns with the bill.''
Assemblyman Joe Nation, D-San Rafael, introduced the bill in March at the behest of the Natural Resources Defense Council. Mr. Nation claimed that the state could save some 300 million gallons of fuel annually if it had a law mandating that replacement tires were as fuel-efficient as original equipment tires.