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New York City lawmakers working on immediate lithium-ion battery legislation

Push to prevent further lithium-ion battery fires
Push to prevent further lithium-ion battery fires 02:18

NEW YORK -- There are laws on the books to get poorly made lithium-ion batteries off the street, but the laws don't take effect until September.

Lawmakers are now focused on moving that date up.

The jarring picture of burnt lithium-ion batteries -- some still smoking -- outside an e-bike repair shop in Lower Manhattan on Tuesday was a call to action for city officials to do more to stop the use of cheap, poorly made batteries that have left a charred path of death and destruction.

"We knew it was bad. It should have been made unlawful immediately," City Councilman Kalman Yeger said.

Yeger was furious that the law passed by the City Council to require UL-certified lithium-ion batteries for those who ride electric bikes and scooters doesn't take effect for three more months. He's now drawing up legislation to move up the start date to prevent more tragic incidents.

"These are dangerous machines zipping up and down our streets. They have fire boxes attached to them. These things are going to happen," Yeger said.

READ MOREGrubhub, DoorDash and Uber donate $100,000 to FDNY for lithium-ion battery safety outreach

Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine also supports earlier enforcement, but he says there are many more things the city can do to prevent tragedies.

"We should be buying back all the older batteries. There are 65,000 estimated e-bikes being used by delivery workers," Levine said. "We need charging stations around the city so that instead of them carrying two or three batteries as they go throughout the day, they have a safe charging station."

READ MORENew York's U.S. senators get proactive on lithium-ion battery fires, announce new legislation

Bronx Congressman Ritchie Torres says the federal government has to take steps to prevent cheaply-made batteries from entering the country from China and other places.

"I've introduced legislation that would empower the Consumer Protection Safety Commission to set standards for the manufacturing of lithium-ion batteries and e-mobility devices, like e-scooters that contain those batteries," Torres said.

A spokesperson for Mayor Eric Adams insists the answer is educating people to only buy certified batteries.

"While today's incident is still under investigation, one thing is clear: the frequency with which we are seeing lithium-ion-related battery fires is alarming and the results can be incredibly deadly and dangerous," the spokesperson said.

City Hall is also joining the push for federal legislation to keep poor quality batteries off the shelves.

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