Rep. Ritchie Torres’s Lithium-Ion Battery Legislation Passes the U.S. House of Representatives

Today, the United States House of Representatives passed Congressman Ritchie Torres’s legislation, H.R. 1797, the Setting Consumer Standards for Lithium-Ion Batteries Act by a 378-34 vote. Introduced in March 2023, the bill would require the Consumer Product Safety Commission to establish a final consumer product safety standard for rechargeable lithium-ion batteries used in micro mobility devices, such as electric scooters and bikes, to protect against the risk of fires caused by such batteries. The passage of this legislation in the House demonstrates Rep. Torres’s devotion to bipartisanship and getting things done for the Bronx — no matter which party is in control of Congress.

“For years, it has been clear that unregulated lithium-ion batteries pose an escalating threat to the public’s safety, and now is the time to do something about it,” said Rep. Ritchie Torres (NY-15). “I am acutely aware of the unmitigated disaster that urban fires pose, especially to communities like mine in the Bronx. In my two terms in Congress, we’ve seen horrific fires like Twin Parks North West ravage our borough. One small spark can destroy entire families and futures. People feel forgotten, they feel neglected — and I refuse to allow that to continue. It is incumbent upon us as elected officials to do everything in our power to put a stop to future preventable fires, which is exactly what this legislation will do. The electric micro mobility devices that lithium-ion batteries power have quickly spread far and wide across our cities and many service workers rely on them. However, we must ensure that the proper safety standards accompany this heightened usage. I am proud to receive the overwhelming support of my colleagues in the House on this commonsense legislation and I urge the Senate to take this up quickly so that President Biden can swiftly sign the bill into law and save lives.”

“Electric micro mobility devices offer convenient transportation options for New Yorkers to travel around the five boroughs, but faulty and illegal devices are unfortunately making their way into our homes and streets, causing fires and putting lives at risk,” said New York City Mayor Eric Adams. “We know these fires can cause serious injury and even death. I applaud Congressmember Torres for championing this important legislation so that we can continue to embrace this new technology while also protecting the public from deadly fires.”

“In New York and across the nation, our communities have been tragically made aware of the dangers of unregulated, unsafe lithium-ion batteries,” said Rep. Yvette Clarke (NY-09). “Industry leaders, stakeholders, and the first responders fighting this crisis on the front lines all agree: it’s past time to prioritize the lives and welfare of American families by enacting a national mandatory safety standard for these increasingly common batteries. We have witnessed too many avoidable fires and their destructive aftermath for Congress not to act. Companies that produce these batteries must eliminate all unreasonable risks within their products, and I am proud to support legislation that would compel them to uphold that responsibility.”

“Unregulated lithium-ion batteries are a growing and top cause of fatal fires in New York and present an acute danger to the brave firefighters who respond to these incidents,” said Rep. Andrew Garbarino (NY-02). “This legislation will mitigate the risk of these devastating fires as the use of unchecked lithium-ion batteries in mobility devices, like those used in electric scooters and bikes, continues to increase. I thank Rep. Torres for leading this important bill, and my colleagues in the House for supporting it.”

“This is not just a New York City issue,” said New York City Fire Commissioner Laura Kavanagh. “These batteries are killing Americans and putting firefighters across the nation in danger every day. This bill will set a basic safety standard for consumers, so they can be assured that when they buy a micro-mobility device, they aren’t bringing an uncertified, potentially explosive device into their home or business. We thank Congressman Torres and the bipartisan group of legislators who support public safety by championing this bill. We look forward to working with the Senate to support its swift advancement and passage.”

“This legislation is the first step in making this innovative technology fire-safe,” said Fire Chief John S. Butler, President and Board Chair of the International Association of Fire Chiefs. “I would like to personally thank Representative Ritchie Torres, the sponsor of this legislation, for his steadfast leadership on this issue. Representatives Andrew Garbarino, Yvette Clarke, Patrick Ryan, Jamaal Bowman, Anthony D’Esposito, Adriano Espaillat, and Daniel Goldman, the legislation’s original cosponsors, along with Representatives Cathy McMorris Rodgers and Frank Pallone, the chair and the ranking member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee: I sincerely thank you all for helping to improve safety for American consumers.”

“The IAFF thanks Congressman Ritchie Torres for his leadership and applauds the House for passing the Setting Consumer Standards for Lithium-Ion Batteries Act,” said Edward A. Kelly, General President, International Association of Fire Fighters. “Our firefighters and the communities they serve are at risk of injury and death from the escalating dangers posed by these hazardous batteries. Setting essential safety standards is a crucial step in protecting property and saving lives.”

“The National Fire Protection Association applauds Congressman Ritchie Torres and the many supporters of H.R. 1797 to require that the Consumer Product Safety Commission promulgate a safety standard for rechargeable lithium-ion batteries and chargers used in electric scooters and bikes,” said Jim Pauley, President and CEO of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). This bipartisan legislation is critical to addressing the rapidly growing threat to first responders and the general public from fires that can become serious in mere seconds.” 

“Safer e-bikes and e-scooters means more mobility options, and research shows that people who own one drive a lot less and bike more, which means better public health and lower greenhouse gas emissions,” said Julie Tighe, President of the New York League of Conservation Voters. “We applaud Rep. Ritchie Torres for his leadership on this issue and for ensuring alternative modes of transportation in New York and across the country are safe and regulated.”

“This a major victory for families across the country,” said Dev Gowda, Deputy Director of Kids In Danger (KID). “KID’s annual recall report, Recall Radar, found that products containing faulty lithium-ion batteries continue to get recalled, and many more continue to be in homes and on store shelves, posing a serious threat to our children’s health. This bill will help protect our families from hazardous batteries and micro mobility products.”

“Dangerous, uncertified lithium-ion batteries are a national problem that require comprehensive, national solutions,” said Amy Healy, Grubhub’s Vice President of Government Affairs. “With the passage of the Setting Consumer Standards for Lithium-Ion Batteries Act in the House of Representatives, we are one step closer to improving safety for the many Americans who rely on lithium ion-powered micro mobility devices for personal and commercial use. Grubhub thanks Representative Torres and the many cosponsors of this legislation for their leadership on this critical public safety issue. We urge the bill’s swift passage in the Senate.”

“We applaud Representative Ritchie Torres and the U.S. House of Representatives for taking action to curb the influx of substandard lithium-ion batteries and help ensure that everyone can safely use micro mobility devices without putting themselves, their families, or their neighbors at risk,” said Carrianna Suiter Kuruvilla, Head of Federal Government Relations at DoorDash. “The availability of these unsafe devices is a national problem that demands national attention, and we’re proud to support comprehensive efforts to address these challenges and finally ensure that a clear safety standard exists. DoorDash has been and remains deeply committed to working with policymakers to prevent these dangerous devices from reaching our communities, and ensure this legislation is fully enacted.”

“Every consumer should be able to trust that the battery in their e-bike or scooter is safe. Congressman Torres’ bill would give people that assurance,” said Gabe Knight, Safety Policy Analyst for Consumer Reports. “By requiring all lithium-ion batteries in mobility devices to meet a federal safety standard, this bill would prevent countless fires, save lives, and give consumers the peace of mind they deserve. We commend Congressman Torres for his leadership and the House for passing this critical safety legislation on a bipartisan basis.”

The bill underscores Rep. Torres’s unwavering commitment to improving fire safety for New Yorkers and all Americans. He previously introduced the “Empowering the U.S. Fire Administration Act” in the wake of the deadly Twin Parks North West fire which President Biden signed into law and is currently leading the “Safer Heat Act” to address underlying manufacturing issues and safety concerns with space heaters.

Last month, a broad coalition of companies and interest groups including FDNY, DoorDash, Uber sent a letter to congressional leadership urging the passage of this legislation. The bill text can be found at this link.

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