Making the Most of Advocacy

Nov 1, 2022 | Business

The ARA Government Affairs team and committee have been hard at work this year on behalf of ARA members and the industry as a whole. Here are some key issues we have been working on.

By Emil Nusbaum

SUMMARY

• ARA’s Government Affairs Team tracked 203 pieces of legislation across 40 states.

• Of the 203 pieces of legislation, 132 were catalytic converter anti-theft bills that were introduced in 34 different states and the U.S. Congress.

• 22 states passed catalytic converter anti-theft legislation.

• ARA submitted comprehensive comments to federal and state regulators on the essential role automotive recyclers play in ensuring that the U.S. can reuse, repurpose, and recycle electric vehicle batteries. Some of the agencies ARA has worked with include: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; U.S. Department of the Interior; U.S. Department of Energy; U.S. Joint Office of Energy and Transportation; U.S. Department of Transportation; National Highway Traffic Safety Administration; California Air Resources Board.

• ARA submitted comments to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in response to the agency’s solicitation for public input on its industrial stormwater permit’s industry fact sheets. ARA’s comments explained how the Automobile Salvage Yard Fact Sheet needed to be updated to better reflect current automotive recycling practices.

• ARA’s Government Affairs Committee is continuing to develop a glossary of automotive recycling terms that will be used as an educational tool with legislators and regulators.

ADVOCACY ACTIONS

ARA Submits Comments to AAMVA on Electronic Titling

ARA submitted comments to the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators (AAMVA) on the data elements included within AAMVA’s E-Titling Framework. It is important to note that AAMVA’s E-Titling Framework is only recommended best practices for state department of motor vehicles and is not a nationwide e-titling program being administered by AAMVA. As an important party and stakeholder, ARA recommended that AAMVA incorporate two new data elements relevant to the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System (NMVTIS). The two data elements AAMVA should include are: (1) whether a VIN has been reported into NMVTIS; and (2) if a VIN is included within the NMVTIS system the disposition of the VIN. The inclusion of these data elements into AAMVA’s E-Titling Framework will take advantage of available NMVTIS data. The benefit of including ARA’s recommendations is that it will strengthen the coordination of electronic titling and NMVTIS.

ARA Highlights the Professional Automotive Recycler’s Strategic Importance Within the U.S. Supply Chain to the U.S. Department of the Interior

ARA submitted written comments in response to the U.S. Department of the Interior’s (DOI) 2021 Draft List of Critical Minerals. ARA’s comments emphasized the important role professional automotive recyclers play within the U.S. supply chain. The DOI produced the 2021 Draft List of Critical Minerals in response to an Executive Order signed by President Trump in 2017. President Trump’s executive order called for the DOI, in coordination with the Secretary of Defense, to produce a list of critical minerals essential to the economic and national security of the U.S.

ARA’s comments emphasized the historical contributions of automotive recyclers to the national security of the U.S. The comments stated, “The automotive recycling industry has long been pivotal to the American supply chain and supported the U.S. war efforts during World War I and World War II. During World War I, automotive recyclers provided U.S. manufacturers with readily available scrap metal from motor vehicles and also served as a primary source for replacement motor vehicle parts. Twenty- one years later, World War II broke out and automotive recyclers were once again called upon to provide manufacturers with readily available scrap metal and replacement vehicle parts. Not only did automotive recyclers provide the U.S. war effort with much needed resources, but automotive recyclers also provided much needed replacement vehicle parts to citizens at the home front.”

Additionally, ARA’s comments highlighted the importance of automotive recyclers’ current contributions to the U.S. supply chain. The ARA’s members are of strategic importance to the U.S. supply chain because they possess the largest available supply of eight critical minerals on the Draft List. Unlike other sources, automotive recyclers’ supply of the eight critical minerals on the Draft List can be found within one central product, the motor vehicle, that are located at each automotive recyclers’ facilities. The eight critical minerals identified are as follows: (1) rhodium, (2) platinum, (3) palladium, (4) lithium, (5) cobalt, (6) nickel, (7) aluminum, and (8) magnesium.

ARA Submits Comments to California Lithium-ion Car Battery Recycling Advisory Group

In February, ARA submitted comments to California’s Lithium-ion Car Battery Recycling Advisory Group (Advisory Group) to assist in the development of policy recommendations that support the reuse and recycling of electric vehicle batteries. In 2018, the California State Legislature passed legislation establishing the Advisory Group for the purpose of developing policy recommendations “aimed at ensuring that as close to 100 percent [of] possible of lithium-ion vehicle batteries in the state are reused or recycled at end-of-life in a safe and cost-effective manner.” As part of the Advisory Group’s knowledge-building period throughout 2019-2020, ARA was invited by the Advisory Group to give a presentation on electric vehicle dismantling.

In its comments, ARA made the case that automotive recyclers need to have the ability to put electric vehicles and their batteries to their highest and best use. Currently, lithium-ion battery powered electric vehicles are only a small percentage of the total vehicle fleet in California and nationwide. As electric vehicles become a larger percentage of the total vehicle fleet, automotive recyclers will become the largest collective owners of end-of-life electric vehicles and lithium-ion batteries. Therefore, like for internal combustion engine vehicles, automotive recyclers will be a key party within the electric vehicle and lithium-ion battery lifecycle and will be a primary facilitator for the reuse, repurposing, and recycling of lithium-ion batteries.

In the absence of a formalized training program provided by vehicle manufacturers, ARA’s comments highlighted the work the Association has done to create a training program by and for the industry. ARA encouraged manufacturers and other stakeholders to contribute to this training and certification program that provides necessary information for the safe handling and storage of lithium-ion batteries.

ARA Submits Feedback to the U.S. EPA on Electric Vehicle Battery Recycling

Over the summer, ARA provided the EPA with information on how automotive recycling promotes electric vehicle battery reuse, repurposing, and recycling. The input was in response to a notice published in the Federal Register requesting information to help with the agency’s development of best practices with respect to the collection of batteries to be recycled and the establishment of a program to promote battery recycling through the development of voluntary labeling guidelines.

ARA communicated to the EPA that automotive recyclers are the largest collective owners of end-of-life vehicles and that the most viable solution to address raw material shortages for electric vehicle batteries is to support the reuse, repurposing, and recycling of electric vehicle batteries and their critical materials.

In response to the EPA’s request for information to assist in the development of labeling guidelines, the ARA urged the EPA to include the following information in the form of physical labels and an electronic database: (1) battery type and chemistry; (2) known pollutants and composition; (3) safety information; (4) where batteries can be located within a vehicle and how many batteries a vehicle contains; (5) how battery cells are connected; and (6) a vehicle identification number. All six of these pieces of information are critical to promote electric vehicle battery reuse, repurposing, and recycling. It is also critical in making sure that automotive recyclers can safely dismantle and reuse, repurpose, and recycle electric vehicle batteries.

ARA Provides Feedback to the U.S. EPA’s Industrial Stormwater Fact Sheet for Automobile Salvage Yards

On January 25, 2022, the EPA published a notice for public input in the Federal Register requesting public input on the EPA’s industrial stormwater program’s 29 industry specific fact sheets. ARA submitted comments to the EPA to assist the agency in its evaluation of the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Industrial Stormwater Fact Sheet for automobile salvage yards. The US EPA industry specific fact sheets are “used by permittees, industrial stormwater stakeholders, and state/territory NPDES permitting authorities on a voluntary basis as a reference tool and informational resource.” Therefore, the final fact sheets published by the U.S. EPA will have an impact on automotive recyclers as they become persuasive authority. ARA’s comments focused on addressing provisions in the fact sheet for automobile salvage yards that were either irrelevant to preventing stormwater pollution or that encouraged outdated business practices.

ARA Leaders Meet with ISRI and IPMI to Discuss Catalytic Converter Theft

Leadership of ARA has met with leaders from the International Precious Metals Institute (IPMI) and the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI). The associations discussed how the epidemic of catalytic converter thefts across the United States is having a negative impact on the public and their respective membership. At the meetings, ARA continues to maintain that professional automotive recyclers do not generally purchase detached catalytic converters but purchase entire vehicles with catalytic converters still attached. Automotive recyclers are required by federal law to report every vehicle they acquire into the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System.

Additionally, the associations discussed the lifecycle of a catalytic converter and began identifying points in the chain of commerce where stolen catalytic converters are most likely to be laundered into legitimate business stream. The parties agreed that it would be beneficial to continue conversations regarding catalytic converter theft with the hope that each group can reach a better understanding and agreement with one another.

ARA Wraps Up a Busy State Legislative Season

It was a busy legislative season for ARA and its affiliated chapters and members. ARA tracked over 200 pieces of legislation since January 1st. Most of these bills were related to catalytic converter anti-theft initiatives.

Besides catalytic converter anti-theft legislation, ARA worked on a myriad of other issues that would impact the recycled parts market and ARA member businesses. Several states introduced right to repair bills that addressed agricultural equipment, digital electronics, and motor vehicles. However, the automotive recycling and aftermarket parts industry has been patiently waiting for a decision in the right to repair lawsuit challenging the legality of the 2020 ballot initiative. ARA also saw legislation that included state efforts to: improve titling efficiency, electronic titling, combating illegal dismantling, airbag fraud, and a growing focus on state efforts to study electric vehicles and batteries.

ARA aggressively opposed Virginia’s elimination of the state’s nonrepairable threshold, an issue that has been debated within the state government agencies for the past several years. However, the nonrepairable threshold was removed.

In Tennessee, ARA went on the record opposing a new waste tire disposal fee that would negatively impact businesses selling used tires. Fortunately, this piece of legislation did not pass.

As far as electric vehicle and electric vehicle battery legislation, ARA continues to work on efforts in Massachusetts, Texas, and New Jersey that would establish state sponsored task forces to study the issue.

ARA also worked to ensure that OEM repair procedure legislation threatening the ability for vehicle owners to purchase recycled parts did not pass. ARA saw OEM repair procedure bills in New York, Illinois, Connecticut, and Massachusetts and opposed these efforts to restrict the vehicle replacement parts market. Fortunately, none of these proposals gained traction in state legislatures.

ARA continues to advocate for automotive recyclers in New York to have the ability to sell recycled OEM non-deployed airbags.

ARA thanks all those that participated in the weekly state legislative update calls. These calls will resume in January 2023.

For all your policy and advocacy-related questions please reach out to either Emil Nusbaum at emil@a-r-a.org or Jessica Andrews at jessica@a-r-a.org. Or call ARA headquarters at (571)-208-0428. 

Emil Nusbaum is the vice president of government and regulatory affairs for the Automotive Recyclers Association. He can be reached at emil@a-r-a.org.

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