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Assemblywoman Pheffer Amato champions legislation to combat lithium-ion battery fires

Mar. 25, 2024 By Czarinna Andres

Assembly Member Stacey Pheffer Amato, who represents southeast Queens, has taken a significant legislative step to address safety concerns associated with lithium-ion batteries in New York state.

Amato sponsored and passed legislation earlier this month that would prohibit the sale of lithium-ion batteries–used by e-bikes, mopeds and other micromobility devices– unless such batteries are manufactured in accordance with certain national standards and specifications. Violators would face penalties ranging from $500 to $1,000.

The bill, A.4938, is about to go before the state senate, which passed the same piece of legislation in 2023, when it failed to get passed by the assembly. The senate bill is sponsored by Manhattan legislator Liz Krueger, with Queens legislators John Liu, Jessica Ramos and Mike Gianaris among the senate lawmakers co-sponsoring it.

Amato said that the bill needs to become law as soon as possible. She noted that in 2022 alone, lithium-ion batteries were identified as the cause of 200 fires in New York City, resulting in six deaths and over 100 injuries.

“This is a bold step forward in addressing the problems we face with lithium-ion batteries,” Amato said in a statement. “By setting a standard and mandating only safety-proven batteries can be sold and operated, we can prevent fires, but also tragic injuries and deaths. This bill holds retailers and sellers accountable. I believe we have more work to do in addressing issues caused by e-bikes and my sleeves are rolled up,”

The legislation comes as part of a broader initiative by Amato to increase safety standards for e-bikes and e-scooters, including proposals to require these vehicles to have license plates and for their operators to carry liability insurance. These measures are intended to improve accountability among users and manufacturers, reducing the risks these devices can pose to the public.

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