Prop Zero
The Starting Point for Commentary and Coverage of California Politics

Brake Pad Bill Needs Some Gas

Email
|
Print

    NEWSLETTERS

    Car brakes got an awful lot of attention during the string of recalls by Toyota and other carmakers earlier this year. So when legislators take up the issue of brake pads, it's worth taking notice. This time, it's to help clean up the environment while maintaining safety.

    Senate Bill 346 would eliminate brake pads made with copper, which basically flakes off onto the roads and then gets into the runoff, harming shellfish and salmon.

    Sen. Christine Kehoe (D-San Diego) wrote a year and a half ago that "California has the opportunity to again lead the nation in protecting our environment."

    Except that, Washington state already beat us to it by passing a similar law earlier this year.

    The California bill meantime is stuck in the Appropriations Committee because not everyone can agree. Sound familiar?

    Car parts dealers and suppliers are not against saving the environment but argue the dates for compliance need to have flexibility or else driver and passenger safety is jeopardized.

    "At the same time we are pleading with legislators to consider driver safety, they brush off our appeals and work feverishly to cram through this bill," argues Steve Handschuh of the Automotive Aftermarket Suppliers Association.

    In Capitol Weekly, Handschuh writes that California's bill should now follow the lead of Washington state. The bill calls for an across-the-board ban for copper brake pads by 2025, but the Washington state bill allows for an advisory committee that allows for some flexibility.

    The motor vehicle parts manufacturing industry plays an important role in California's economy, providing almost 25,000 jobs and indirectly creating more than 120,000 jobs, says Handschuh. And now is not the time to create undue stress on the industry, he argues.

    Manufacturers are confident they can come up with an alternative for the majority of vehicles, but need the flexibility to make sure that the new design doesn't compromise performance and safety and isn't worse for the environment, says Alison MacLeod, a spokesperson for the companies supporting the amendments.

    SB 346 sounds like a good bill in theory. Let's see if legislators and the automotive manufacturers can reach a compromise and buck the trend and get something passed.