ANNAPOLIS, Md.—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. Amid this legislation is a Maryland House of Delegates bill that would subject those who use scrap tires for "commercial gain" to fines of up to $25,000 and imprisonment 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, according to Mike Kress, president of Marlboro Tire, Upper Marlboro, Md., and of the Maryland Tire Dealers Association.
Not long ago, one of Kress' customers brought in 10 used tires to Marlboro Tire, which 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 Kress, is a Maryland Senate bill that 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 2002 and $1 million in 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 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 measures are:
a Senate bill to transfer the Used Tire Cleanup and Recycling Fund to Maryland Environmental Service from the Department of the Environment; and
a 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, according to Kress.
What further galls Kress is that 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 went for such things as administrative costs and state projects.
Kress wants the state to establish a task force to rededicate the scrap tire fund and devise incentives for scrap tire recycling.
For example, the state could use part of the fund to help energy plants and cement kilns retool for use of tire-derived fuel, according to Kress.