APRIL 2009

Colorado’s proposed tire fee hike won’t clean up tires

Buying a set of four tires will cost Colorado consumers an additional $13 if lawmakers approve a proposed increase in the state tire fee to $3.25 per tire.

State tire fees are typically used to pay for the cleanup of discarded tires and creation of markets for scrap tires. Unfortunately, Colorado diverts 80 percent of the current tire fee to other purposes and has not been active in either stockpile abatement or developing markets for the 4.5 million scrap tires the State generates each year.

A state-by-state survey of scrap tire management progress conducted by the Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA) shows Colorado has the most stockpiled tires of any state with 45 million tires, creating a health, safety, fire and environmental hazard.

“Colorado’s pro-environment reputation is challenged by the state’s abysmal record in managing waste tires,” said Michael Blumenthal, RMA vice president.

If the $1.75 per-tire fee hike is enacted, Colorado consumers will pay the state $13 for every set of four tires purchased. The total take for the state will amount to more than $14 million annually but none of those funds would be used to clean up the largest scrap tire pile in the United States – some 40 million tires in El Paso County.

The Colorado Senate approved SB09-31 18-15 to raise the state tire fee by $1.75 and use the funds for economic development. The House should address the measure shortly.

Nationwide, states have been vigorously cleaning up stockpiled waste tires and working to foster the creation of productive markets that reuse tires. In 1990, more than one billion tires were stockpiled nationwide and only 11 percent of scrap tires were reused.

Today, about 125 million tires remain stockpiled and more than 85 percent of annually generated scrap tires are reused. Colorado is home to more than one third of all the stockpiled scrap tires in the country.

The tire industry, led by RMA, has been working for nearly two decades to promote market-based solutions to using scrap tires and reasonable regulations to clean up piles of scrap tires. RMA supports fees on new tires to fund scrap tire management goals. The group opposes efforts to use such revenue for non-scrap tire purposes.

“It makes sense to impose fees on tires if the funds are used to address scrap tire issues,” Blumenthal said. “But when these revenues are hijacked for other purposes, a state may suffer far worse environmental consequences and cleanup costs if a major tire stockpile catches fire. In too many states, this failure to act has caused significant environmental harm and cost the state tens of millions of dollars in clean up costs.”