Bill endorsed by CR would require rules for rechargeable lithium-ion batteries linked to hundreds of fires and injuries nationwide
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Consumer Reports (CR) announced today its endorsement of the Setting Consumer Standards for Lithium-Ion Batteries Act, legislation in Congress to protect consumers from the risk of fire tied to lithium-ion batteries used in micromobility devices such as e-bikes and e-scooters.
“Too many companies have ignored best practices and failed to take responsibility for the safety of their products. Strong, sensible rules are needed to stop this mounting toll of deaths and injuries,” said Gabe Knight, policy advocate for Consumer Reports. “We’re proud to endorse this bill, which will help prevent future tragedies.”
When lithium-ion batteries and other high energy density batteries are poorly made, overused, incorrectly refurbished, or charged too long, they can cause large, fast-spreading fires that are hard to extinguish. In New York City alone, since just the start of 2023, malfunctioning lithium-ion batteries are linked to 76 fires, 58 injuries, and nine deaths—up from six deaths in all of 2022.
“In New York and around the country, we’ve been reminded far too often of the escalating threat lithium-ion batteries pose to the public’s safety,” said U.S. Rep. Ritchie Torres (NY-15). “I’m grateful to the hundreds of first responders who continue to bravely respond to fires and explosions caused by these batteries and do all they can to save lives and property, but the time has come for the federal government to finally act. We must work to create and implement national safety standards for lithium-ion batteries in order to protect people and places from unreasonable risk, serious injury or damage, and/or death.”
“Over the past few years, we have seen a growing number of deadly fires in New York City and elsewhere caused by poorly made lithium-ion batteries in e-bikes and e-scooters,” said U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. “The situation is simply unacceptable, and it is clear that federal intervention is urgently needed. Setting federal mandatory standards is a critical first step in combating the dangers posed by lithium-ion batteries. I’m proud that Consumer Reports is endorsing the Setting Consumer Standards for Lithium-Ion Batteries Act I introduced with Congressman Torres and Senator Schumer to ensure such standards are finally established.”
Identical legislation has been introduced in each chamber of Congress. Rep. Torres introduced H.R. 1797 in the House, and Sens. Gillibrand and Chuck Schumer introduced S. 1008 in the Senate. The legislation would grant the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) greater authority to develop safety standards for rechargeable lithium-ion batteries used in micromobility devices, and require the agency to issue a final rule within 180 days of the bill’s enactment. The bill has garnered bipartisan support in the House and is also endorsed by the New York City Fire Department (FDNY), the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC), and PeopleForBikes (P4B).
Yonkers, N.Y.-based Consumer Reports published a December 2022 investigation on the rise of lithium-ion battery fires in e-bikes and other micromobility devices and related regulatory challenges, including a 2016 law that has allowed products under $800 to be imported with minimal oversight. At the time of CR’s investigation, out of the hundreds of e-bike manufacturers, only 13 were certified to UL 2849, a voluntary standard for batteries and other electronics in e-bikes. Following CR’s investigation, the CPSC wrote letters to over 2,000 manufacturers, importers, distributors, and retailers of micromobility devices, strongly urging compliance with applicable voluntary standards, and warning of possible enforcement action.
CR’s investigation also found that the current lack of regulation leaves countless consumers, their families, and neighbors at risk of serious injury or death. This is especially true for lower-income users – such as app-based delivery workers – who cannot afford higher-end devices that are more likely to be UL-certified, and who are particularly vulnerable to battery explosions and fires if they end up with lower quality or heavily used batteries.
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