The Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality says the growing numbers of waste tires in urban centers is creating a pollution problem, so starting this month, the state OK’d an increase on the per tire fee that’s used to pay for waste tire processing. Secretary Chuck Brown, on Talk Louisiana with Jim Engster, said it’s a modest, but necessary tax.

“As you buy a new set of tires you’ll pay 2 dollars and 25 cents a tire. That goes into a DEQ waste tire fund that we use to pay processors.”

There are five such plants statewide that can process the old tires in an appropriate manner.

Brown says on one stretch of road (Florida Boulevard) in Baton Rouge alone he counted 10 used tire shops. He says those shops will get loads of 2,000 tires at a time, and only find use for 500 of them, leading to nasty dumping situations in cities like New Orleans…

“Out of Orleans Parish we normally get about 20,000 tires that are illegally dumped. This year it was 30,000, so we’ve done surveillance, and arrested people.”

But Brown says the good news is the increased fees mean the state can now afford to process every waste tire on the roads. Now, they only need local governments to step up and make sure they all get collected…

“If they can collect the tires then we are at the point where we can actually pay to have them processed.”