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Congress Acts! Prepares to Make Eco-Innovation Nearly Impossible

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A seemingly minor legislative move in Congress (wait a minute, something happened in Congress?) could have massive ramifications to the tire industry.
HR 4012 – the Secret Science Reform Act of 2014 – would force the EPA to find, access, make public and verify independently ALL scientific and technical information connected to any proposed action on its part.

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In other words, Congress wants to make the EPA’s job much, much more impossible.

For those of you who hate the EPA but still enjoy clean air and water, this might seem insignificant. But what happens to any eco-advantage touted by tiremakers that ends up before the EPA? What about things like lead wheel weights, chemicals used in tire-making, or disposal of waste oil or automotive chemicals?
The House passed the bill on Nov. 19 by a 237-190 count, and it is unknown what the Senate would be inclined to do, or the president’s position on the matter.

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With oil prices hovering around $75 a barrel and natural rubber prices at significant lows, it seems tiremakers won’t have “the high cost of raw materials” to blame for price increases expected off the impending punitive duties coming on China exported consumer tires.

Industry analysts say they expect NR prices to “remain subdued” for the “next several years.” And while anything can happen, many feel oil should remain depressed at least through next year. With the presidential election coming in 2016, there would be much pain should oil shoot up again and consumers line up for $3.75 a gallon fuel.

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With China rapidly planting rubber tree groves and Indonesia taking the lead in adding plantations, one analyst offered: “Our contact believes that overcapacity will persist for the next 10 years. Natural rubber trees, which take 6-7 years to mature, were aggressively planted from 2004 through the downturn to try and meet expectations then of booming demand. In 2011, this capacity started to come online, pressuring price. These trees are productive assets for 30-plus years, such that our contact believes that overcapacity will persist for the next 10 years.”

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Those of you in southern states probably saw more than a few news stories about how old tires are killing people, how old tires are on your child’s school bus and will kill them, and/or how school bus operators are using retreaded tires instead of new ones, a sure threat to kill your children.

TRIB and the RTA have been quite busy chasing and refuting the “retreads on school buses are evil” stories. Even though some “news” outlets just won’t listen to reality and continue to push their sweeps month audience-loading agenda.

With regard to any and all “old tires” stories on TV and in the newspapers, I will remind everyone of the NHTSA report earlier this year that says old tires are not a problem. A position endorsed by both TIA and the RMA.

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The mid-term elections brought an interesting story about Bud’s Tire Pros in Murfreesboro, Tenn., purported to be the area’s smallest voting precinct.

Owner Bud Mitchell told local media that on election day, they saw less than 10 voters, about the same number as the last election.

The business first hosted voting booths back in 1978, but Bud took over the business in 1987 and moved it to his new shop.

While few voters are there to buy tires, it does help with brand awareness and customer contact. Plus, how many dealers can claim they are a polling place.

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