A legislative proposal designed to rid the state of millions o discarded tires has cleared one hurdle and appears on course for passage in the House of Delegates.
The bill would cost motorists $1 for every new or used tire purchased in the state, generating $4 million a year that would be used to eliminate tire dumps and replace them with recycling centers.
The House on Friday gave the bill tentative approval after accepting amendments from Del. Cornell N. Dypski, D-City, that he said would prevent the bill from making Maryland resemble "a little Kuwait" with smoke from piles of burning rubber.
The bill would require the Maryland Environmental Service to set up regional tire-disposal centers across the state to handle the -- redirected influx of some 15 million tires already abandoned in dumps, plus 4 million additional tires discarded each year. It would require service stations and other tire dealers to charge the $1 per-tire fee and dispose of old tires through licensed haulers.
Instead of being stockpiled in dumps, old tires would be put to "productive use" as highway paving material or as fuel, or they could be burned as refuse, according to Del. Virginia M. Thomas, D-Howard, a co-sponsor of the bill.
Dypski said he supports the general goals of the bill but feared the recycling program could become so successful that tons of out-of-state tires would be imported to Maryland for disposal at incinerators.
"Once those flood gates are open and those tires start coming in, why should we be subjected to that kind of pollution?" Dypski asked. "We'll have a little Kuwait here."
Dypski's amendments would require that most tires be recycled and those that are burned be used primarily as a fuel substitute for incinerators.
Dypski said by recent experiences with a medical-waste incinerator in Hawkins Point that had been burning hospital refuse trucked in from New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. The practice angered nearby residents because the controversial facility is barred by city ordinance from taking out-of-state trash.
Officials of Medical Waste Associates, a group of Maryland investors developing the incinerator, said the facility was using hospital refuse from the New York and Philadelphia areas only to test its burners and pollution controls.
Opposition to the tire bill has come mainly from some lobbyists and lawmakers who say the $1 disposal fee actually is a tire tax.
Speaker of the House R. Clayton Mitchell Jr., D-Eastern Shore, said the levy is similar to energy surcharges currently used for Chesapeake Bay cleanup efforts. He predicted the bill will pass through the House to the Senate, "but not overwhelmingly."