Ecology seeks public comment on Better Brakes draft rules

The Department of Ecology (Ecology) is seeking public comment on proposed rules to carry out Washington's Better Brakes law. The law restricts use of heavy metals and asbestos and phases out the use of copper in vehicle brake pads and shoes.

In-person hearings will be held on July 10 in Bellevue and teleconferenced to Yakima, and on July 12 in Lacey with a teleconference location in Spokane.

The Better Brakes law was passed in 2010 with the aim of reducing toxic material in automotive vehicle brake pads and shoes. As the result of a collaborative effort the legislation passed with the support of brake and auto manufacturers, environmental groups, and Washington state businesses.

The proposed rules address:

* Criteria manufacturers of brake friction material must follow to certify compliance using third-party accredited laboratories.

* Requirements related to product and packaging markings.

* Requirements for data submitted regarding the concentration of copper and other metals in brake pads sold or offered for sale in Washington.

* A process by which companies may apply for an exemption.

* Other issues necessary to implement the law.

As brake pads wear down, copper and other metals are deposited on roadways, where they are washed into our state's streams and rivers. In urban areas, brake pads account for up to half the copper entering our waterways.

Copper is highly toxic to fish and other aquatic species. Young salmon are especially susceptible to the effects of copper. Removing copper and other toxic metals from brake material will help clean up Puget Sound and other water bodies around the state.

A workgroup made up of brake and vehicle manufacturers, the Society of Automotive Engineers, wholesalers, retailers, distributors, and environmental groups has been working with Ecology to develop the proposed rules. Brake manufacturers have told Ecology they plan to sell brakes nationwide that will comply with Washington's law.

Comments will be accepted through July 19, 2012, and may be made during two scheduled public hearings, by email to - please include Better Brakes Rule in the subject line - or sent in care of Ian Wesley, Department of Ecology, P.O. Box 47600, Olympia, WA 98504-7600.

Ecology will conduct public hearings on the proposed rules on July 10 and July 12. Each hearing will be teleconferenced with one other location.

First Hearing
Date: July 10, 2012
Doors open at 6 p.m.
Open House starts at 6:20 p.m.
Formal hearing starts at 7 p.m.

Primary Location: Ecology Northwest Regional Office
3190 - 160th Ave. SE, Bellevue, Wash.

Teleconference Location: Ecology Central Regional Office
15 West Yakima Ave. Suite 200, Yakima, Wash.

Second Hearing
Date: July 12, 2012
Doors open at 6 p.m.
Open House starts at 6:20 p.m.
Formal hearing starts at 7 p.m.

Primary Location: Ecology Headquarters Building
300 Desmond Drive SE, Lacey, Wash.

Teleconference Location: Ecology Eastern Regional Office
N. 4601 Monroe, Spokane, Wash.

The rule language and supporting documents are available for review at

We encourage an open exchange of ideas on this story's topic, but we ask you to follow our guidelines for respecting community standards. Personal attacks, inappropriate language, and off-topic comments may be removed, and comment privileges revoked, per our Terms of Use. Please see our FAQ if you have questions or concerns about using Facebook to comment.

Read the Sep 21
Green Edition

Browse the print edition page by page, including stories and ads.

Browse the archives.

Friends to Follow

View All Updates