Washington Democrats move to regulate tire standards to mitigate climate change

“There are very few other transportation policies in the short-term that can reduce emissions by this magnitude.”

Ari Hoffman Seattle WA
Washington Democrats are looking to make tires more expensive for consumers in an effort to combat climate change.

The state’s Department of Commerce will be requesting that the Democrat-controlled Legislature give the agency the authority to regulate tire efficiency.

According to the Washington State Standard, low-rolling resistance tires that regulators want to push are typically more expensive than budget tires but they claim that it could save a driver money on gasoline over the lifetime of the tires.

Senior Energy Policy Specialist Steven Hershkowitz said during a state Commerce Department webinar last week to describe its energy policy priorities and requests for the 2024 legislative session, “There are very few other transportation policies in the short-term that can reduce emissions by this magnitude.”

Though standards for tires have usually been set at the national level, several years ago California gave its state energy department the authority to regulate tires as part of a campaign to increase fuel efficiency and reduce emissions.

In Washington, Democratic Governor Jay Inslee’s Department of Commerce is working with the Legislature to get similar regulatory authority over tire standards. Hershkowitz added that Washington wants to work in partnership with California on the regulations.

The California Energy Commission is working to establish minimum standards for rolling resistance and a rating system so consumers can compare tire efficiency.

The new standards would apply to replacement tires for passenger cars and light trucks but not to original tires installed by manufacturers on vehicles.

California has claimed that the tire standards would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 1 million metric tons per year in the state but the rubber industry and tire dealers are concerned it could affect tire dealers and consumers.

Editor of the Modern Tire Dealer trade journal Mike Manges wrote in an editorial, “I still believe that a mandate could not only limit consumer choice but also limit a dealer’s ability to sell what he or she wants — based on the customer’s budget and preference,” Manges continued.

“Not all customers will be able to afford higher-priced tires that can meet or exceed whatever rolling resistance target the CEC will require.”

The announcement came on the heels of a bill that was pre-filed in the Washington Legislature by Democrats who are seeking to jail state residents for using gas-powered landscaping tools such as leaf blowers.
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