Missouri is trying to reinstate the waste tire fee it instituted in 1990 to fund the state's efforts in scrap tire cleanup and management.
The fee, which amounted to 50 cents for every new tire sold in Missouri, lapsed Jan. 1 after the Missouri Assembly failed in its 2003 session to extend it.
Approximately $2.3 million to $2.4 million remain in the fund, and that plus the cleanup contracts the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has in place will carry the program through June, according to Dan Fester, former DNR waste tire unit chief. But the fund has no source of income other than the fee.
Without it, he said, ``that will be the end of our cleanups-and not just the cleanups, but the entire program.''
The waste tire fund's 14-year history has been a successful one, according to a DNR fact sheet dated November 2003. During that time, the department collected and recycled or disposed of more than 12 million tires and allowed the proper management of the estimated 5 million tires generated in Missouri every year.
Through the fund, the DNR also reimbursed non-profit organizations for their scrap tire cleanup efforts and gave 259 grants worth $1.3 million to communities to install recycled rubber playground surfaces, the fact sheet stated.
Missouri faces tough times with scrap tires if the fee isn't re-authorized, according to the DNR. There are 2.9 million known stockpiled scrap tires in the state-and perhaps 1 million more still unaccounted for, it said.
This isn't even considering the West Nile virus, which is spread through mosquitoes that can breed in scrap tires filled with stagnant water.
In 2002, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services counted 168 cases of the virus in humans, seven of which were fatal.
Last year the DNR funded a program for cleanup of scrap tires by non-profit groups specifically to curb the West Nile virus. The expiration of the fee, however, effectively ended that program.
The Missouri Assembly's Web site listed eight bills to reestablish the waste tire fee, but a spokeswoman for the DNR said there are 10-including two written by the department itself.
Depending on their language, the bills would extend the fee until anywhere from 2005 to 2014, and some contain provisions giving preference to Missouri contractors to perform scrap tire cleanups in the state.
A DNR spokeswoman said she had no information on the status of any of the bills or whether the department was supporting any of them above the others.