Republicans warn proposed EPA rule could wreck auto racing

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scottm
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Republicans warn proposed EPA rule could wreck auto racing

Postby scottm » Fri Apr 15, 2016 8:46 am

Republicans warn proposed EPA rule could wreck auto racing
http://www.foxnews.com/leisure/2016/04/ ... to-racing/

Republican lawmakers are warning that regulations proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency could cast a pall over auto racing.

Three members of the House Energy and Commerce committee sent a letter to Environmental Protection Agency administrator Gina McCarthy on Tuesday, expressing concern that regulations proposed would prohibit car enthusiasts from making modifications that convert street cars into race cars.

Since passage of the Clean Air Act in 1970, the EPA has not enforced anti-tampering provisions in the law for drivers and mechanics making changes for racing purposes. New language introduced by the administration would end that unofficial exemption.

"There are the thousands of racing enthusiasts who own these vehicles and who have had every reason to believe that what they were doing was legal," wrote Rep. Fred Upton (R-Michigan), Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-Kentucky) and Rep. Richard Hudson (R-North Carolina). "Overnight, these vehicle owners may be considered lawbreakers by the EPA and subject to penalties similar to those Volkswagen now faces."

Specifically, a proposed rule that affects greenhouse gas emissions standards for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles reads, "certified motor vehicles and motor vehicle engines and their emissions control devices must remain in their certified configuration even if they are used solely for competition or if they become non-road vehicles or engines."

Government officials actually proposed the rule last July, but the language was sandwiched in the middle of another pending rule, and it sat unnoticed until after the period during which the public can comment on pending rules closed. Based on concerns, the EPA recently re-opened the comment period for an additional 30 days, but the agency is expected to finalize the ruling this July.

State authorities in West Virginia, Ohio, Arkansas, Alabama, Louisiana, Michigan and Georgia had previously written to McCarthy, pictured above, asking her to withdraw the rule. An EPA spokesperson says the agency will review and respond to the most recent letter.

Consumers spent $36 billion on automotive specialty parts and accessories in 2014, the congressmen wrote, and the economic fallout from new rules under the Clean Air Act has yet to be measured.

"With the EPA's tacit approval for over a half-century, an entire industry has grown around the modification of EPA-certified cars, motorcycles and other vehicles for racing purposes – from parts manufacturers and retailers to garages and race tracks," they wrote. "Now, they legality of this industry has been called into question by the EPA."

Officials with the Specialty Equipment Marketing Association are urging voters to support a countermeasure, the "Recognizing the Protection of Motorsports Act of 2016" that would carve exemptions in the Clean Air Act for auto racing.

In the meantime, the Congressmen have asked EPA officials to respond to seven questions that address their concerns, asking the agency officials to clarify their intent with the law and, chiefly, asking what sort of penalties they intend to hand down for modifying racing vehicles and how they intend to monitor and investigate these activities.

"We remain doubtful that this proposed policy change complies with Congressional intent, which we believe is to exempt racing vehicles from the Clean Air Act's provisions," they wrote.

This isn't the first time a government agency has weighed the right of car enthusiasts to modify their vehicles. Last year, automakers lobbied the US Copyright Office for rules that would have prevented gearheads from modifying software in vehicles, arguing it was copyright protected. Though there's some nuance to the outcome, the office largely left the rights of enthusiasts to fix their cars intact.


I don't know how much of this is gloom and doom, but it doesn't sound good.

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scottm
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Re: Republicans warn proposed EPA rule could wreck auto racing

Postby scottm » Tue Apr 19, 2016 8:04 am

EPA proposal to regulate race car conversions dropped after outcry
http://www.foxnews.com/leisure/2016/04/ ... er-outcry/

Racers, feel free to keep starting your engines…for now.

The EPA has removed a paragraph from newly-proposed automotive emissions regulations that critics complained would make it illegal to modify the pollution controls of street legal cars to convert them into race cars.

The language was included in a rules package primarily aimed at regulating medium and heavy duty truck emissions and read:

“Certified motor vehicles and motor vehicle engines and their emission control devices must remain in their certified configuration even if they are used solely for competition or if they become non-road vehicles or engines.”

The Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA), which represents the automotive aftermarket parts industry, raised the issue with its members and the racing community in February. Over 168,000 people signed a petition asking the White House to withdraw the proposal, and a bipartisan, though largely Republican-supported bill called the Recognizing the Protection of Motorsports Act of 2016 (RPM Act) was introduced in Congress that would expressly permit street to race car conversions.

Earlier this month, the House Oversight Committee was briefed on the topic by the EPA, which followed up on Friday by announcing that it was dropping the section from the proposal.

The agency wrote to the Committee that it “EPA’s focus is not on vehicles built or used exclusively for racing, but on companies that don’t play by the rules and that make and sell products that disable pollution controls on motor vehicles used on public roads.”

SEMA, however, is not satisfied with the change. It says the EPA is attempting to “assert new-found authority under the Clean Air Act to regulate modification of vehicles for use in competition,” and continues to urge it supporters to write their Senators and Representatives to press for passage of the RPM Act or similar clarifying legislation.


EPA feeling the burn, eh? I'm glad they were catching some slack.


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