WASHINGTON (Aug. 14, 2009) — The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has denied the Rubber Manufacturers Association's (RMA) request for a 30-day extension of the comment period on the proposed rule establishing a consumer information program on tire fuel efficiency.
This means all public comments on the document are due by Aug. 21 as originally scheduled.
In requesting an extension until Sept. 20, RMA President Charles Cannon said the sheer complexity of the proposal, and the information requests it makes on the tire industry, mandated a longer time to prepare comments. Particularly, Mr. Cannon cited the industry's data collection efforts in response to NHTSA's proposals for ratings on rolling resistance, wet traction and treadwear.
“RMA agrees that consumers should have comparative information about tires' relative contribution to vehicle fuel economy available to them at point of purchase,” Mr. Cannon wrote in his July 31 letter. “RMA seeks to extend the comment period in order to provide more comprehensive and meaningful comments and suggestions.”
Stephen Kratzke, NHTSA associate administrator for rulemaking, replied Aug. 7 that it was impossible to grant the RMA's request. Under the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA), the agency has only until Dec. 19 to issue a final rule on tire fuel efficiency, and extending the comment period probably would cause the agency to miss that deadline, Mr. Kratzke said. However, he said the RMA was free to submit late comments to the docket, and that NHTSA would consider them as time allowed.
The RMA introduced the tire fuel efficiency proposal into EISA to counter the more draconian fuel efficiency rule pending in California. In the pending rule, NHTSA recommends paper labels to contain a tire's fuel efficiency, safety and durability ratings, all of which would be listed on a scale of 0 to 100.