Showdown Over EPA Racecar Regulations Begins in Congress
Is it curtains for modified street cars on the racetrack, or will a compromise save the day?
The first meeting of a congressional committee tasked with deciding the fate of drivers who race modified street vehicles took place on March 15, and a glimmer of hope emerged, according to Jalopnik.
Earlier this month, a bipartisan bill — Recognizing the Protection of Motorsports Act of 2016 — was introduced in the House of Representatives and Senate in a bid to make converted race vehicles exempt from proposed Environmental Protection Agency regulations.
After the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) found out about the proposal and raised a big stink, a group of four congressmen crafted the bill at the center of yesterday’s meeting of the Oversight Committee of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology.
The meeting, which included participation by SEMA President and CEO Christopher Kersting, saw three experts discuss the impact the proposed EPA regulations would have on the motorsports industry. The EPA did not have a representative there, but Brent Yacobucci of the Congressional Research Service spoke to the regulatory side of the matter.
This is where things get interesting.
Yacobucci feels the whole controversy stems from two different interpretations of existing laws held by the EPA and SEMA.
While SEMA states that racecars have always been exempt from the Clean Air Act, the EPA’s stance is that there has never been an exemption for modifying the emissions systems of a road car, even if the car is now relegated solely to the racetrack.
Yacobucci opined that a change in the EPA’s regulatory language could solve the problem. If a driver were to remove the emissions label when they removed their vehicle from the street, that could make the subsequent modifications legal.
Even if the EPA doesn’t choose to go that route, another option would be for owners to report their non-street-legal vehicle to the regulator in the same manner as someone importing a race car.
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