House subcommittee leader says RERA won't get vote

House subcommittee leader says RERA won't get vote

By Dan Leif, E-Scrap News

Jan. 24, 2014

The leader of a key House environmental subcommittee said a much-discussed federal bill limiting e-scrap exports will not be taken up in the current Congress.

In a meeting with the Institute of the Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI), Rep. John Shimkus (R-Ill.) said HR-2791, also known as the Responsible Electronics Recycling Act or RERA, was not on his subcommittee's agenda. Shimkus serves as chairman of the Environment and the Economy subcommittee within the larger Energy and Commerce committee, and he is also part of the House Recycling Caucus. His statement is an indication the legislation will not make its way to a vote by the House as a whole.

Shimkus said the agenda decision was based on the fact that export statistics have not shown such legislation to be necessary. He also cited worries the bill would violate World Trade Organization regulations.

RERA, which was introduced last July after an earlier version failed to move out of committee, has polarized many in the recycling industry over the e-scrap export issue. ISRI has staunchly opposed the bill's limits on scrap shipments, noting several studies have shown the volume of end-of-life electronics dumped in developing countries is far less than RERA supporters suggest.

However, a group called the Coalition for American Electronics Recycling (CAER) has come together to advocate for RERA, and the organization's number of member companies has steadily grown. Many of the nation's largest e-scrap and recycling companies -- including Waste Management Recycle America, Sims Recycling Solutions and ECS Refining -- have joined CAER, and more than 20 of CAER's approximately 130 member companies are also ISRI members.

In a statement to E-Scrap News, the CAER steering committee said despite Shimkus' recent statements, RERA currently has 18 co-sponsors in the House and 14 of those supporters are Republicans. "We have now emerged as the voice of our industry on Capitol Hill," the statement reads, "and we are continuing to reach out to ISRI to find common ground on a bill that will help grow an American industry that creates jobs here in the U.S. … On behalf of our members across the country, we are simply asking for a Congressional hearing where we can have a balanced and thoughtful exchange on the merits of RERA."

ISRI leaders maintain Shimkus' comments bring closure to the issue. “Congressman Shimkus is a strong supporter of recycling and demonstrates a deep understanding of the issues related to our industry,” Robin Wiener, president of ISRI, said in a release.

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