On March 20, 2023, Mayor Eric Adams signed five bills into law, all with the goal of preventing fires caused by lithium-ion batteries.
Following increased reports of fires in New York City thought to be caused by thermal runaway events with rechargeable lithium-ion batteries used in electric bikes and scooters, city officials have enacted local laws meant to prevent such fires and a New York congressional representative has also introduced related federal legislation. Electric bikes and scooters are used in many cities across the United States for delivery of food and small parcels as well as recreational use.
On March 20, 2023, Mayor Eric Adams signed five bills into law, all with the goal of preventing fires caused by lithium-ion batteries. Introduction 663-A restricts the sale, lease or rental of electric bikes and scooters and storage batteries for the devices that fail to meet recognized safety standard certifications (UL 2849 for electric bikes and UL 2271 for electric scooters). These devices and their storage batteries can be sold only if they have been certified as meeting such standards by an accredited testing laboratory, and the testing laboratory logo or name must be displayed on the product packaging, documentation or the vehicle or battery itself. Introduction 752-A restricts the assembly and reconditioning of lithium-ion batteries with cells removed from their used batteries and prohibits the commercial sale of such batteries. The three remaining laws require the Fire Department of New York (FDNY) and the Department of Consumer and Worker Protection (DCWP) to engage in specific conduct designed to mitigate the risk of fires resulting from lithium-ion batteries. More specifically, Introduction 722-A requires the FDNY to submit five reports (one per year for five years) related to fire risks associated with powered mobility devices, such as e-bikes and electric scooters, and Introduction 656-A requires the FDNY, in consultation with the DCWP, to develop an information campaign to educate the public on the fire risks posed by powered mobility devices. Finally, Introduction 749-A requires the DCWP to develop and publish educational materials on the associated safety risks for such devices as well as mitigation measure materials for delivery workers.
U.S. House Considers Federal Standards
U.S. Representative Ritchie Torres (NY-15) introduced the Setting Consumer Standards for Lithium-Ion Batteries Act in the House of Representatives on March 24, 2023. This bill is still in the introductory phase of the legislative process; however, the current version would require the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to establish a final consumer product safety rule for rechargeable lithium-ion batteries used in micromobility devices, such as electric bicycles and scooters. Such a rule would be binding not just in New York, but across all of the United States.
The CPSC has not announced a formal position on this new legislation, but it is actively engaged in this field already. On December 19, 2022, the CPSC issued a letter to more than 2,000 manufacturers and importers of battery-powered e-scooters, self-balancing scooters, e-bicycles and e-unicycles to review their product lines and ensure they comply with established voluntary safety standards or face possible enforcement action.
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