AN ACT relative to reducing mercury in automobiles.

SPONSORS: Sen. Cohen, Dist 24

COMMITTEE: Environment


This bill establishes restrictions on automobile manufactures to reduce mercury in automobiles.

This bill is a request of the department of environmental services.

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Explanation: Matter added to current law appears in bold italics.

Matter removed from current law appears [in brackets and struckthrough.]

Matter which is either (a) all new or (b) repealed and reenacted appears in regular type.




In the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand Three

AN ACT relative to reducing mercury in automobiles.

Be it Enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court convened:

1 New Subdivision; Reduction of Mercury in Automobiles. Amend RSA 149-M by inserting after section 57 the following new subdivision:

Reduction of Mercury in Automobiles

149-M:58 Definitions. In this subdivision:

I. "Capture rate" means removal, collection, and recovery as a percentage of the total mercury available from vehicles in commerce and end-of-life vehicles annually.

II. "End-of-life vehicle" means any vehicle which is sold, given, or otherwise conveyed to a vehicle recycler or scrap recycling facility for the purpose of recycling.

III. "Manufacturer" means any person, firm, association, partnership, corporation, governmental entity, organization, combination, or joint venture which is the last person to produce or assemble a new vehicle that utilizes mercury-added components, or in the case of an imported vehicle, the importer or domestic distributor of such vehicle.

IV. "Manufacturer-dealer warranty program" means an arrangement between a manufacturer and its franchisee, whereby the manufacturer agrees to reimburse the franchisee, at established rates, for labor or parts necessary to repair a vehicle pursuant to the manufacturer's original equipment warranty to the original purchaser of the vehicle.

V. "Mercury-added component" means a component that contains mercury and which was intentionally added to a vehicle in order to provide a specific characteristic, appearance, or quality or to perform a specific function, or for any other reason. Such components may include, but are not limited to, switches, sensors, lights, and navigational systems.

VI. "Mercury-added switch", a light switch or an anti-lock brake system switch installed by an automotive manufacturer in a motor vehicle.

VII. "Scrap recycling facility" means a fixed location, where machinery and equipment are utilized for processing and manufacturing scrap metal into prepared grades and whose principal product is scrap iron, scrap steel or nonferrous metallic scrap for sale for remelting purposes.

VIII. "Vehicle in commerce" means any vehicle offered for sale by a dealer or registered in the United States to be operated on public roads and highways.

IX. "Vehicle recycler" means any individual or entity engaged in the business of acquiring, dismantling or destroying six or more vehicles in a calendar year for the primary purpose of resale of their parts.

149-M:59 Removal, Replacement, Collection, and Recovery of Vehicle Mercury Switches. Every manufacturer of vehicles sold within the state shall, individually or as part of a group, submit to the department a plan to remove, collect, and recover mercury switches.

I.(a) Vehicle manufacturers shall develop and implement a system to remove, replace, where possible, collect, and recover mercury switches from vehicles in commerce and end-of-life vehicles. For vehicles in commerce, the system shall provide for the removal, collection, and recovery of mercury switches, and replace them with mercury-free alternatives, where possible, the system shall also provide for the removal, collection, and recovery of mercury switches from end-of-life vehicles.

(b) The removal, replacement, where possible, collection, and recovery system shall include, at a minimum, the following:

(1) An education program to inform the public and other stakeholders about the purposes of the collection program and how to participate in it;

(2) A plan for implementing and financing the system, in accordance with paragraph II;

(3) Documentation of the willingness of all necessary parties to implement the proposed system;

(4) Information identifying the make, model, and year of vehicles containing mercury switches; a description of the component; the location of these components; and the safe, cost effective, and environmentally sound methods for their removal from vehicles in commerce and end-of-life vehicles.

(5) A mercury switch capture rate of at least 90 per cent, consistent with the principle that mercury switches shall be recovered unless the part is inaccessible due to significant damage to the vehicle in the area surrounding where the mercury switch is located;

(6) A description of the performance measures to be utilized and reported upon by the manufacturer to demonstrate that the system is meeting the capture rate identified in subparagraph (5), and other measures of program effectiveness, including, but not limited to, the number of switches collected from both end-of-life and vehicles in commerce, amount of mercury collected, the number of vehicles containing mercury switches, and the number of vehicles processed for recycling;

(7) A description of additional or alternative actions that shall be implemented to improve the system and its operation in the event that the capture rate established under subparagraph (5) is not met; and

(8) A plan to store the mercury collected and recovered from vehicle components in the event that environmentally appropriate management technologies are not available.

(c) In developing a removal, collection, and recovery system, manufacturers shall, to the extent practicable, utilize the existing end-of-life vehicle recycling infrastructure. Where a manufacturer does not utilize such infrastructure, the manufacturer must include in its plan the reasons for establishing a separate removal, collection, and recovery infrastructure.

II. The total cost of the removal, replacement, collection, and recovery system for mercury switches shall be borne by the manufacturer or manufacturers. Costs shall include, but not be limited to, the following:

(a) Labor to remove, or replace where possible, mercury switches. Labor shall be reimbursed at the prevailing rate auto manufacturers use to reimburse automotive dealers for replacing faulty switches under the manufacturer-dealer warranty program;

(b) Training;

(c) Packaging in which to transport mercury switches to recycling, storage or disposal facilities;

(d) Shipping of mercury switches to recycling, storage or disposal facilities;

(e) Recycling, storage or disposal of the mercury switches;

(f) Public education materials and presentations; and

(g) Maintenance of all appropriate systems and procedures to protect the environment from mercury contamination.

III. The commissioner of the department of environmental services shall:

(a) Within 30 days of receipt of a manufacturer's plan, issue public notice and solicit public comment on the manufacturer's plan;

(b) Within 90 days after receipt of a manufacturer's plan:

(1) Determine whether the entire plan complies with this section. If the entire plan is approved, the manufacturer shall begin implementation as soon as practicable. If the entire plan is rejected, the commissioner shall inform the manufacturer as to the reasons for such rejection. The manufacturer will have 30 days thereafter to submit a new plan; or

(2) Determine whether any part of the plan meets the requirements of this section and shall approve such part or parts and disapprove such other part or parts that do not comply with the requirements of this section. The manufacturer shall immediately implement the approved part or parts and submit a revised plan respecting the remaining parts within thirty days after receipt of notification of the commissioner's disapproval. The commissioner shall review a manufacturer's revised plan within 30 days of receipt.

(c) Not later than August 1, 2004, complete, on behalf of a manufacturer, any portion of the plan that has not been approved.

(d) The commissioner shall review the plan 3 years after the original date of approval of the plan and every 3 years thereafter, and shall require modifications to the plan as appropriate.

149-M:60 Prohibition and Proper Management of Mercury-Added Vehicle Components.

I. A person who sells, gives, or otherwise conveys ownership of an end-of-life vehicle to a scrap recycling facility for recycling shall remove all mercury-added switches from such end-of-life vehicle prior to delivery to such facility.

II. Notwithstanding paragraph I, a scrap recycling facility may agree to accept an end-of-life vehicle which has not been intentionally flattened, crushed, or baled which has mercury-added switches, in which case the scrap recycling facility shall be responsible for removing such switches.

III. It shall be unlawful for any person to represent that mercury switches have been removed from a vehicle or vehicle hulk being sold, given, or otherwise conveyed for recycling if that person has not removed such mercury switches.

149-M:61 Phase-Out of Mercury-Added Vehicle Components and Exemptions.

I. To prevent emissions or other releases of mercury from vehicles, effective January 1, 2006, no mercury-added component shall be included as part of a new vehicle offered for sale in the state.

II. A mercury-added component in a vehicle that is necessary in order to comply with federal or state health or safety requirements, or for purposes of national security, shall be exempt from the requirements of paragraph I, provided that:

(a) The manufacturer must apply, or reapply, for such exemption to the commissioner.

(b) The application shall be in writing, stating the need for an exemption and the legal basis for an exemption. It shall include documentation that there is no technically feasible alternative to the use of mercury in the component and that there is no comparable mercury-free component available at reasonable cost to address the health or safety requirement, or national security. "No technically feasible alternative" does not include the use of mercury for the purpose of marketing.

(1) The application shall include a description of how the manufacturer will insure that a system exists, and how the manufacturer will fund such system, for the proper removal, collection, and recovery of the mercury-added component while the vehicle is in commerce and at the end of the vehicle's useful life.

(2) Subject to the issuance of public notice and solicitation of public comment, the department shall, within 90 days, accept or reject the application for exemption.

(c) An exemption application may be submitted to the commissioner of the department of safety, subject to public notice and comment, for safety components not required by federal or state law. An exemption may only be granted upon clear demonstration that:

(1) Such components will substantially increase public health and safety considering any impacts the components may have on overall public safety on the roads, and the life-cycle impacts of the mercury use, and

(2) That there is no technically feasible alternative to the use of mercury in the component.

(d) An exemption granted under this section by the commissioner of the department of safety shall be valid for a period not to exceed 2 years.

(e) Exemptions granted under this section shall be renewable for periods not to exceed 2 years.

(f) If granted an exemption, any vehicle that may contain a mercury-added component shall be labeled by the manufacturer in a manner to clearly inform purchasers that mercury is present in the vehicle, and that the component may not be disposed of or placed in a waste stream destined for disposal until the mercury is removed or reused, recovered, or properly disposed of as a hazardous waste or otherwise managed to ensure that the mercury does not become mixed with other solid waste. The label shall identify the component with sufficient detail so that it may be readily located for removal. This label shall be placed on the doorpost of each vehicle that may contain a mercury-added component and be constructed of materials that are sufficiently durable to remain legible for the useful life of the vehicle.

III. Manufacturers, when designing vehicles and their components, shall:

(a) To the maximum extent practicable eliminate hazardous substances from their vehicles;

(b) Insure that their vehicles are designed to be recycled in a safe, cost effective, and environmentally sound manner, using existing technologies and infrastructures;

(c) Where a vehicle is found to present environmental risks that make it uneconomical to recycle, the manufacturer shall make appropriate design or manufacturing changes.

149-M:62 General Compliance With Other Provisions. Except as expressly provided, compliance with this subdivision shall not exempt a person from compliance with any other law.

149-M:63 Rulemaking Authority. The commissioner shall adopt rules, under RSA 541-A, relative to procedures for implementing and enforcing the terms and conditions relating to reduction of mercury in automobiles, and other such actions as may be necessary to implement this subdivision.

149-M:64 Reporting. Beginning January 1, 2004, and annually thereafter, a manufacturer subject to RSA 149-M:59 shall report to the department concerning the performance of the manufacturer's plan. The report shall include, but not be limited to:

I. A detailed description and documentation of the capture rate achieved;

II. A plan to implement additional or alternative actions, if necessary to improve the capture rate;

III. A listing of the public educational initiatives implemented, including size of audience reached; and

IV. Any changes in the participation of the necessary parties for the plan to be effectively implemented.

2 Rulemaking. Amend RSA 149-M:7, XV to read as follows:

XV. Reduction of mercury in automobiles under RSA 149-M:58-64.

XVI. Such other rules as are deemed necessary to implement the provisions of this chapter.

3 Effective Date. This act shall take effect January 1, 2004.