By on March 8, 2016

SEMA show 2011(Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Attention, racecar enthusiasts: Your Congressional representatives are looking out for you!

Normally, this phrase would be met with suspicion and outright fear, but for those fighting the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed regulation on racecar conversions, it’s the best news they’ve had in weeks.

A bipartisan bill introduced in Congress would protect the track-only use of modified street vehicles for use in competition, a practice the EPA is seeking to prohibit.

The Recognizing the Protection of Motorsports Act of 2016 (RPM Act), introduced by three Republicans and one Democrat, aims to keep converted race vehicles away from the tentacles of the EPA. The bill has been sent to the House Energy and Commerce Committee for consideration.

Racecars are exempt under the Clean Air Act, but there was panic in racing circles when it was revealed the regulatory body had published draft legislation last summer that would make it illegal to modify a street car into a racecar. The EPA saw the modifications as a “tampering” of regulated on-road vehicles, and proposed that the sale and purchase of products involved in the conversions would be subject to the same law.

By the time, the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) found out about the proposal just before the New Year, it was too late to comment. Since the EPA proposal was revealed to the public a month ago, over 163,000 people have signed a White House petition calling on the EPA to back off.

Raucous applause is already emanating from the SEMA camp.

“The EPA’s new interpretation of the Clean Air Act would essentially rewrite the law and 46 years of policy and practice,” said SEMA President and CEO Chris Kersting.

“Without congressional intervention, the racing community and racing parts manufacturers would be operating outside of that new law and could be targeted for enforcement.”

Racing products represent a $1.4 billion annual market, and would be “decimated” if the EPA were to follow through on their plans, according to SEMA. The legislation would have the same effect on hundreds of American racetracks and all associated industries.

The EPA is expected to finalize its regulations this summer, meaning a tsunami of phone calls and emails from opponents will be reaching Congressional representatives very soon.

[Image: Moto “Club4AG” Miwa/Flickr]

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22 Comments on “Bipartisan Bill Aims to Kill EPA Racecar Regulation...”

  • avatar

    This is a great example of the 5% screwing it up for the 95%. There is a small group of people that modify their cars for “racing” wink wink wink and then continue to drive them on the street because you know, the rules don’t apply to me and hey, I can’t afford a trailer and a vehicle to pull it so how else am I supposed to get back and forth to the track.

    For the other 95% that follow the rules, well, you get the idea.

    Even when I was doing autocross the meme about owning a sail boat equally applied.

    Being serious about auto racing, even in Solo (which I know people will say is not real racing) is akin to waking up very early in the morning, standing in the wet dew shivering as the sun is coming up and ripping up 100 bills as fast as you can. (not directed at the casual Solo II driver who brings their street car, does an event or two a year and calls it good)

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    I wonder how much this cost SEMA…

  • avatar

    Got a link to a source on this one?

  • avatar

    It’s about time. See, the EPA needs to realize that they have to follow the law too, they don’t get to write it. Remember, the EPA proposed “legislation” (really regulation and not legislation) would also marginalize ordinary aftermarket parts, not just racer stuff. Which I’m sure people like Mopar and Delco would have been fine with, but I like my aftermarket stuff. :)

    • 0 avatar

      I thought they were simply interpreting the current laws as prohibiting turning road cars into race cars, because there’s no legal mechanism for de-certifying a road car.

      • 0 avatar

        That’s how they phrase it so they don’t get into legal trouble. But “interpretation” can drastically change law…and that’s the job of the Supreme Court, not an agency of the Executive Branch. :)

        • 0 avatar

          Not quite right.

          The Supreme Court has held that agency interpretations of statutes that they administer and that mandate they take action, are entitled to deference unless they are unreasonable. It’s a hard test to meet and it’s been settled law for more than 30 years.

          This is a bedrock principle of administrative law. The Supreme Court has neither the interest nor the time to decide every interpretive question out there.

          Chevron U.S.A., Inc. v. Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc., 467 U.S. 837 (1984).

  • avatar

    So it’ll be business as usual for all the coal rollers? Fan-f*&%ing-tastic.

  • avatar

    Things Congress did well: 1
    Things Congress screwed up: ∞

  • avatar

    While SEMA is protecting their members’ interests, the EPA’s actions make me think, “Nice little industry you have here. It’d be a shame if something happened to it.” About what I expect from an agency that arranges with environmental groups to sue it, just so it can make a settlement that those groups and the bureaucrats at the EPA want to do in the first place.

    Michael Barone has a term for this, “gangster government”.

    • 0 avatar

      Is this the same Michael Barone who has been a regular on Fox news and predicted that Romney would crush Obama in the last election?

      Sounds like a credible news source to me!

    • 0 avatar

      This is where I have to wonder if you understand the basic functions of government or not. I mean, when you start making ‘mook talk’ a serious part of your argument, you’ve pretty much lost any premise of reality.

      The EPA is staffed by *le gasp* environmentalists who want to protect the environment. It’s not like they’re receiving any personal benefit from ‘shutting down industries’ even though they’ve yet to shut down an industry.

      Hell, the famous ‘war on coal’ was more about coal values dropping dramatically as China pulls back on steel production and the cheap NG access that makes coal fired plants obsolete.

    • 0 avatar

      “Michael Barone has a term for this, “gangster government”.”

      Everyone else’s term for this is “conspiracy theory”

  • avatar

    About 20 years ago, OSHA floated a trial balloon about regulating the homes of employees who worked at home. If the employee’s home failed to meet the same standards OSHA sets for the employer’s property (e.g. illuminated EXIT signs), the employer would be penalized. Fortunately, a howl of outrage from the general public caused OSHA to back down. I think this latest from the EPA is similar in character.

  • avatar

    I think that this issue should be set aside by the EPA – there are much bigger ‘fish to fry’.

    But, maybe they’re going for the ‘low hanging fruit’ because of lack of funding and repeated calls (by you-know-who) to cut funding even further.

  • avatar

    The text of the EPA’s proposed rule has been available to the public since July of 2015. It wasn’t ”revealed ” by SEMA.

    Also, the EPA opened comments on this specific issue a week ago, even though SEMA missed the original deadline. Deadline for comments is April 1. Funny, SEMA hasn’t mentioned that the EPA is being responsive to their concerns.

  • avatar

    if the EPA really wanted to do something useful, theyd mandate OBD2 emissions checks in all states/counties that dont have checks.

    No dyno, no visual, no sniffer even. Make it cheap and easy.

  • avatar

    “…if the EPA really wanted to do something useful…”

    I think that the EPA should re-institute rebates on hybrid vehicles (especially CUV’s/SUV’s) to encourage sales and get the fleet MPG numbers to start rising again – that would be money well-spent.

    Low gas prices are reaffirming denial on buyers and manufacturers alike.

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