Can regulation drive innovation?

By CMTA Staff

Capitol Update, July 2, 2010 Share this on FacebookTweet thisEmail this to a friend

Last year, Senator Christine Kehoe (D-San Diego) introduced SB 346 to restrict the use of copper, cadmium, chromium, mercury and lead in vehicle brake pads.  Local governments maintain that it is impossible for them to meet stormwater pollution standards if copper in brake pads is not addressed.

The latest amendments to the bill speed up the phase-out of copper to contain no more than 0.5% by 2025 (from 2032), cadmium to .01% by 2014 and chromium, mercury and lead to 0.1% by 2014.  The problem is that no one knows if this can be achieved.  It is based on the philosophy that regulation will drive innovation.

SB 346 mandates the use of a technology that does not exist. According to the auto industry there is currently no viable, environmentally-safe alternative to copper. The bill does not address what happens if no viable alternative can be found by 2025. Brake manufacturers don’t think this is enough time to develop and test new alternative materials. To comply, car brakes may be installed that were not engineered nor built to perform with certain models, subjecting drivers to potential safety and performance problems.

Another change in the bill is a requirement that brake pad manufacturers perform an alternative analysis in compliance with the Dept. of Toxic Substance Control’s Green Chemistry regulations.  This may create competing and conflicting regulatory and manufacturing schedules.

SB 346 will next be heard in the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

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