85th Legislature: Sen. Rodríguez passes bill to regulate scrap tires statewide
Austin – The 85th Texas Legislature’s Regular Session has ended. State Sen. José Rodríguez passed 50 bills, including those addressing education, health care, courts, criminal justice, local governance, and more. Sen. Rodríguez will send information regarding some of those over the course of this week. Today’s bulletin regards an issue of statewide import: the illegal dumping of scrap tires.
“This is an issue that has vexed communities across the state,” said Sen. Rodríguez. “The goal of S.B. 570 is to guarantee bad actors are stopped without overregulating the many model industry participants across the state. This bill represents the efforts of a broad range of stakeholders over several years, and will help the state and local communities deal with the problem of illegally dumped tires.”
Sen. Rodríguez, along with the bill sponsor, Rep. Armando Walle of Houston, worked with a wide range of health, industry, local government, environmental, and other stakeholders to craft S.B. 570 (see full list below).
More than 36 million tires are discarded each year in Texas, roughly one and a half tires for every person residing in the state. Several million of these tires are illegally dumped each year, creating fire, pollution, and public health and safety risks, such as increases in vector-borne illnesses like Zika, West Nile, and dengue fever.
S.B. 570 provides a way to mitigate environmental and health and safety issues, and the public cleanup costs, resulting from illegal tire dumping in the state of Texas by requiring secure storage of scrap and used tires and improving tracking of scrap tires and enforcement of proper disposal.
Statements from stakeholders regarding S.B. 570:
- “Discarded and scrap tires are a favored breeding ground and home for Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, which transmit such infectious diseases as the Zika virus and dengue virus. I commend the Texas Senate and House of Representatives for passing Senate Bill 570 by Senator Rodriguez and Representative Walle, and I respectfully encourage Governor Abbott to sign it into law. Enactment of this bill would represent an important step towards controlling tropical infectious disease in Texas,” said Dr. Peter Hotez, Dean, National School of Tropical Medicine, Baylor College of Medicine.
- “We applaud Sen. Rodriguez for his perseverance and leadership to address illegal tire dumping in Texas. S.B. 570 is an important step forward to help address the real and significant environmental and public health issues posed by illegally dumped scrap tires,” said Dan Zielinski, Senior Vice President of Public Affairs for the U.S. Tire Manufacturers Association.
- “Laredo was happy to support S.B. 570; passing it will greatly assist all Texans but especially Texas/Mexico Border communities where mosquitoes are a serious health threat” said Laredo Mayor Pete Saenz.
- “The City of El Paso thanks the Legislators for passing Senate Bill 570. This bill will help the City of El Paso address the problem of illegally dumped scrap tires in both the city and the county,” said El Paso Mayor Oscar Leeser. “Scrap tires provide the perfect incubator for mosquito breeding because of their shape and impermeability and this bill will assist the city in protecting the public health and safety by requiring scrap tires to be tracked and providing for penalties for persons who fail to follow the bill’s provisions.”
- “The Texas Border Coalition congratulates Senator Rodriguez on the successful culmination of years of work that he and his staff have put into passing this legislation,” said J.D. Salinas III, TBC Chairman. “As our former TBC Health Committee chairman, Sen. Rodriguez knows how important it is to crack down on scrap tire dumps that provide breeding grounds for mosquitos that can spread Zika, West Nile Virus and other dangerous illnesses. Our border communities will be safer and healthier because of Sen. Rodriguez’s untiring commitment to this issue.”
- “Passage of this important bill will help support all the efforts that cities, counties and outreach workers have been doing to educate the public, decrease breeding sites and increase another layer of prevention from possible harmful and debilitating diseases that mosquitoes bring,” said Olga Gabriel, TBC’s Healthcare Committee chair.
- “Scrap tires dumped in waterways can harm critical infrastructure for flood control and irrigation, reduce valuable water storage space, and costs a lot of taxpayer money to clean up. This bill is a big step towards preventing some of this illegal dumping, which is a real win for Texas.” said Mike Garver, founder of Texans for Clean Water.
- “The San Antonio River Authority (SARA) removes illegally dumped tires from our creeks and rivers each year at great cost to our taxpayers. Along an eight mile stretch of the recently restored San Antonio River, we removed over 530 illegally dumped tires between 2015 and 2016 and we have investigated several illegal dump sites along the river containing piles of tires that threaten the health and safety of the waterway,” said Suzanne Scott SARA’s General Manager. “Senate Bill 570 implements important tracking protocols and provides enhanced penalties for dumping tires which will be very helpful tools to deter this type of activity in the future.”
- “The passage of S.B. 570 is a win for the public health of Texans,” said Texas Medical Association President Carlos J. Cardenas, MD. “Cleaning up illegally dumped tires and the water that accumulates in them will help wipe out mosquito breeding areas and slow Zika’s attack in our state.”
Specifics of S.B. 570:
- To stop tire theft and dumping, S.B. 570 requires the secure storage of scrap and used tires by any party who stores tires on their premises.
- To keep consumers safe and the environment clear of dangerous tire piles, S.B. 570 improves tracking of scrap tires and enforcement of proper disposal.
o codifies existing Texas Administrative Code requirements for tire generators, transporters, and processors;
o adds annual registration renewal and financial assurance requirements for tire transporters and processors;
o directs TCEQ to issue transporter insignia (i.e., stickers or decals) to enable law enforcement to easily identify transporters (agency rules already require transporters to have identification on both sides and rear of the vehicle but it is not uniform and most local law enforcement are unaware of these rules); and
o ties violations to existing civil and criminal provisions in state law for other environmental violations, including disposal of sewage, medical waste, radioactive waste, etc. A minimum civil penalty is set at $500 per violation per day.
- S.B. 570 includes a hold harmless provision for anyone transporting five tires or fewer.
- The legislation allows a customer to keep a used or scrap tire, with certain requirements for retailers to keep records of those who keep a scrap tire for three years. This is the same time period that retailers are required currently to maintain manifests for scrap tire disposal.
This bill is the result of work by a large stakeholder group over the past several years and was supported by industry stakeholders, who are involved with tires from cradle to grave. Those included:
Texas Tire & Automotive Association, Liberty Tire, Texas Automotive Recyclers Association, LKQ, Inc., Recycling Council of Texas, Goodyear Tire & Rubber, Rubber Manufacturers Association, State of Texas Alliance for Recycling, Texas Border Coalition, Environmental Defense Fund, Environment Texas, Public Citizen, Sierra Club, City of Brownsville, City of Corpus Christi, City of El Paso, City of Houston, City of Fort Worth, City of Irving, City of Laredo, City of San Antonio, Texas Municipal League, El Paso County, Harris County, Tarrant County, Travis County, Texas Association of Counties, Texas Conference of Urban Counties, County Judges & Commissioners Association of Texas, San Antonio Chamber of Commerce, Bandera County River Authority & Groundwater District, Delta Lake Irrigation District, San Antonio River Authority, Water Environment Association of Texas, Texas Association of Clean Water Agencies, Texans for Clean Water, Texas Heritage Protection, Texas Medical Association, Texas Public Health Coalition
José Rodríguez represents Texas Senate District 29, which includes the counties of El Paso, Hudspeth, Culberson, Jeff Davis, and Presidio. He represents both urban and rural constituencies, and more than 350 miles of the Texas-Mexico border. Senator Rodríguez currently serves as the Chairman of the Texas Senate Democratic Caucus, and is a member of the Senate Committees on Natural Resources and Economic Development; Transportation; Veteran Affairs and Border Security; and Agriculture, Water, and Rural Affairs (Vice Chair).