By on April 15, 2016

United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Building Plaque, Washington, DC, Image: (

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is dropping proposed policy language that would have done, well, nothing.

That’s right, and it would have made a great Seinfeld story line: faceless bumbling government agency seeks to reframe public debate with a redundant, unenforceable, and unnecessary policy revision only to meet unanticipated wrath from industry and enthusiasts, forcing it to ultimately retract its proposal.

The episode began in June when the EPA published a 600-page proposal focused on reducing carbon emissions for medium- and heavy-duty trucks. A sliver of the policy proposal dealt with prohibiting the modification or removal of emissions equipment when converting on-road vehicles into racecars. Such regulation has long been in place, and has been reaffirmed through legislative action on multiple occasions since passage of the Clean Air Act in 1963.

Predictably, the proposal attracted attention from Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA), the mouthpiece for the $36 billion aftermarket. It released a strongly worded response to the proposal in February. A few days later, Motor Trend’s Scott Evans published a well worded, if controversial, editorial that was swiftly removed from MT’s website but lives on in part here. Mr. Evans called into question the purpose of the proposal and called out SEMA as “paranoid and reactionary.” Since then, the EPA has not convincingly articulated the value of its proposed “policy clarification,” but we have a few ideas. The aftermarket, media, and enthusiasts have been up in arms over this for most of 2016.

This week, Congress got in on the action. House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton R-Michigan stated in a letter to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, “We remain doubtful that this proposed policy change complies with Congressional intent.”

Perhaps scrutiny from the legislative branch was the last straw, because the EPA subsequently announced removal of the controversial language. According to Automotive News, the EPA released a statement, “Since our attempt to clarify led to confusion, EPA has decided to eliminate the proposed language from the final rule.”

The episode ends much as it began, with a policy debate about as substantive as the contents of George Costanza’s Penske File.


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21 Comments on “EPA Ends Bid to Further Justify Itself...”

  • avatar

    “House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton R-Michigan stated…”

    Coincidence that visage of Congressman Fred’s niece, Kate Upton, gazes down upon so many SEMA-associated workplaces and institutions?

    I think not!

  • avatar

    Who could have ever imagined that the exponential growth of the human population towards 8 billion would have had such negative effects on the environment ?

    Here’s a little secret .

    Humans can’t save the environment because they are ultimately destroying it – simply by living .

    We can try to keep the environment clean but it requires us to use more energy which is what these Greeners are trying to stop us from using if they can’t tax us for it.

    Mere fact that the Flint Michigan water situation even exists is a testament to the failures of the EPA .

    EPA couldn’t stop me from getting a HELLCAT.

    Further proof.

    When human’s time as a species on earth comes to an end – only then can the earth recycle itself .

    Perhaps there will be another Cambrian explosion during Pangea Ultima?

    • 0 avatar

      “Who could have ever imagined…8 billion would have had such negative effects on the environment?”

      Pretty much anyone born before 2000 and who learned to read?

  • avatar

    Or……How about this? The EPA realized it wasn’t worth a press fight for something they’ll enforce anyways. So basically they wrote a new clarification, got some paranoids upset, the right-wing jumped on it as a justification for destroying the environment and the EPA just flushed the language to cut them off….

    Pretty standard procedure for any good agency to be able to self-regulate an instance of political grandstanding not worth the time over it.

    • 0 avatar

      Not sure why the headline needed to be so inflammatory. Any American over 40 with lungs knows why the EPA exists.

      • 0 avatar

        I don’t believe Bark is that right of center…..But I’m just under the conclusion that being that right will get the normal commentary going and thus page views = DOLLARS.

        Underpants gnome politicking for dollars….

      • 0 avatar

        It is more than the headline, it is the built in contempt for government throughout the piece.
        This article from headline to the text fits the classic “conservative” MO concerning manipulation of public perception. Highlight one action or policy taken that makes no sense, and use that as a bludgeon to condemn the whole organization and the overarching mission of that organization.
        The conservatives also does this to the whole of our Governmental structure and functioning, see sabotaging the Judiciary by not appointing judges, paralyzing congress, suppressing voting in this supposed democratic republic, grandstanding Government shuts-down, damaging the USA’s credit rating, and in my personal experience, under funding the IRS to cripple its operation. Just try to make contact with the IRS to do one’s (mandatory)civic duty. Phone contact is impossible due to underfunded staffing, you will likely be on automated hold for many hours. I gave up, made on online appointment and drove 80 miles to sit in the office with them to remedy an issue.

        • 0 avatar

          Who drives 80 miles to sit in a federal government office to pay taxes?

          Two solutions here:
          1. Get the tax code simplified so someone with average intelligence can easily understand their tax obligation.

          2. Don’t drive 80 miles and sit in a waiting room- simply send in more than you think you owe. The US Treasury is open for donations all year long. You can then pat yourself on the back for being such a good citizen.

          • 0 avatar

            You’d be surprised who’d do that.

            1. Regardless of ever getting TRUE Tax Reform in the US, sometimes one’s tax situation is simple that it boggles the mind…

            With everything else being equal…

            Typical W-2 earner… earns more money but withholdings were NOT adjusted while everything stayed the same…
            – complains why s/he owes money!

            Some people also hate direct deposit for refunds as much as auto debit for taxes dues.
            They don’t want to give the government their bank information.
            Um.. don’t you think the government has or can get access to that Anyway?!

            Fear and hatred of government…
            Blinds people of whatever common sense they (may) have.

          • 0 avatar

            “1. Get the tax code simplified so someone with average intelligence can easily understand their tax obligation.”

            The 1% like it just the way it is.

          • 0 avatar

            “The 1% like it just the way it is.”

            The 1% cutoff is around half a million dollars declared income. That’s enough to put a painful chunk of income in the more punitive brackets but not nearly enough to take advantage of the vast array of loopholes that let the truly rich prevent most of their gains from being treated as income at all.

            The 0.1% like the code. The 0.01% love it. Its function as a barrier to make it harder for the 1% to catch up with them is by design and is a large part of its appeal.

            Ever wonder why the public face of support for the death tax comes from guys with billion dollar foundations to avoid it themselves?

          • 0 avatar

            It isn’t the 1% that perpetuates the complex tax code. It’s the tax services industry that attempts to assure its own existence by fighting simplification.

            The 1% may lose some loopholes, but the H&R Blocks lose their livelihood.

    • 0 avatar

      “The right wing jumped on it as a justification for destroying the environment”

      Am I correct to assume you believe:

      “the modification or removal of emissions equipment when converting on-road vehicles into racecars” is destroying the environment?

      Are there that many cars being modified that you believe a significant impact to the environment is being created?

      If the answer is yes, then do you believe this impact is greater than the impact created by wealthy individuals traveling in private jets?

      If the answer is yes, do you favor banning the use of private jets?

      If the answer is yes, then at what point would you allow some pollution to occur in the name of convenience (ban all gasoline cars?)?

      • 0 avatar

        Nope, your assumption is wildly off-mark. I’m not going to bother with your pointlessly loaded questions.

        The point was that the right was attempting to make hay for the ending of the EPA’s general authority.

        You can now walk back to whatever bridge you were under, troll. :)

  • avatar

    I’m not sure Rick Snyder can even spell ‘EPA’. Not while he’s still trying to count the money he saved his council…

  • avatar

    You keep describing this epa proposal as a big nothing, even adopting their own explanation that it was a clarification. How has that reading of this survived this long? They hid the damn thing. Enough insiders have pointed out that this has been on enforcement wishlist for some time. They have, contrary to what your article implies, been specifically enjoined by Congress from including “off road parts” in their enforcement activities in the past.

    Why do you assume nothing would have resulted? You do realize that epa takes companies to court instead of fielding a police force manning emissions checkpoints right? They could have absolutely leveled the non oem parts industry with this, especially once lenders realized what could happen and moved to minimize their exposure. Also, for the millionth time, this never had anything to do with racecars. All that ever was, was sema’s clumsy pr spin.

    Frankly your, and the original mt, reaction to this has been unimpressive.

    • 0 avatar

      This. It’s bothersome how many in our supposed community of enthusiasts insisted that this “clarification” was benign. The wording was quite clear that certified road vehicles were not to be modified from their certified form. It went beyond simply addressing emissions equipment.

  • avatar

    SEMA is still lobbying for the passage of the RPM bill, which would statutorily restrict the EPA from regulating vehicles modified for off-road use, including racing.

    There once was a concept of enabling legislation. Since the bureaucratic leviathan seems unrestrained by little things like actual laws (see the Dept of Education’s “Dear Colleague” letter that the agency admits has no basis in law but has created hysteria, word choice intended, about a non-existent epidemic of sexual assault on campus), it is now necessary to pass restricting legislation to make it clear to the executive branch that they can’t just do whatever they want to do.

    • 0 avatar

      One thing which concerns me greatly is when non-elected govt (bureaucrats) create law and define their own mandates. When the EPA decides for itself what its mission & scope is, that’s a problem. When they make decisions that have the effect of law, including punishment, that’s a problem.

  • avatar

    Any money saved will be used to prosecute man-made, western-based climate change deniers and to throw them in jail.

    Or the money will be used to buy 1/20th of the next designer dress that Moochelle My Belle wears showing how she relates to us little people.

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