New York Democrats are seeking federal legislation for lithium-ion batteries, which are used in small electric vehicles and smart phones, after a recent string of fires and explosions of the batteries.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand have voiced their support for legislation proposed by Rep. Ritchie Torres to regulate the batteries.
The “Setting Consumer Standards for Lithium-Ion Batteries Act” would require the Consumer Product Safety Commission to "establish a final consumer product safety standard for rechargeable lithium-ion batteries used in personal mobility devices, such as electric scooters and bikes, to protect against the risk of fires caused by such batteries," the proposed legislation read.
Recent incidents include a 7-year-old and a 19-year-old who died in what was called an "explosion of fire" in early April 2023, after a lithium-ion battery from an electric scooter exploded.
At least 38 people were injured in a Manhattan fire in November 2022, caused by what officials believe was a defective lithium-ion battery from a micromobility device. The apartment fire injured two critically and another five seriously.
In Kent, England, a man suffered "life-changing burns" from his e-scooter, which caught fire while charging.
“Without federal legislation, and so many of these batteries come from across state lines or made overseas or made in China, we will not have a complete and strong solution,” Schumer said at a news conference, according to CNN.
“We cannot allow for faulty or improperly manufactured batteries to keep causing these dangerous, deadly fires," Gillibrand added.
Fire Commissioner Laura Kavanagh noted that the city has seen 63 fires and five deaths from lithium-ion batteries in the first four months of 2023.
A previous report from CNN noted that the New York City Fire Department responded to over 200 e-scooter and e-bike fires in 2022, with six deaths.
“In all of these fires, these lithium-ion fires, it is not a slow burn; there’s not a small amount of fire, it literally explodes,” Kavanagh told reporters. “It’s a tremendous volume of fire as soon as it happens, and it’s very difficult to extinguish and so it’s particularly dangerous.”
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