By SEMA Washington, D.C., Staff
SEMA filed an amicus brief in a lawsuit between the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Gear Box Z. Inc. (GBZ) arguing against EPA’s contention that the Clean Air Act (CAA) does not allow a motor vehicle to be converted into a racing vehicle used solely for competition. The EPA first pursued this controversial interpretation of the CAA as part of a 2015 draft rulemaking, but it quickly withdrew the provision following a huge, SEMA-led public outcry. In the GBZ litigation, however, the EPA again maintains that once a vehicle has been certified as a street vehicle, it cannot be converted into a racing vehicle even if that vehicle is trailered to the track and is never driven on public roads.
In its brief, SEMA argues that the Clean Air Act does not apply to certified vehicles used exclusively on the track. SEMA states that “the agency’s interpretation breaks from the plain language of the CAA, the legislative history, and EPA’s regulations and guidance.” SEMA notes that the EPA’s position contradicts its longstanding guidance and regulations and has previously stated that it “has no interest in vehicles that begin their existence as normal, EPA-certified production vehicles used on public roads and are then permanently converted to sanctioned competition-use only vehicles.”
In response to the EPA’s efforts to regulate race parts, members of Congress introduced SEMA-sponsored legislation to confirm what had already been understood for the previous 45 years, that the Clean Air Act did not apply to vehicles modified for racing use only. The “Recognizing the Protection of Motorsports Act” (RPM Act) is bipartisan legislation to clarify that it is legal to make emissions-related changes to a street vehicle for the purpose of converting it into a dedicated race car. It also confirms that it is legal to produce, market and install racing equipment. SEMA continues to work tirelessly to pass this important legislation to counter EPA overreach.
The GBZ case is before the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona. The Court has agreed to take up the issue after the EPA has responded to SEMA’s amicus brief. SEMA will continue to fight the EPA’s flawed interpretation in court while urging the U.S. Congress to end the debate by enacting the RPM Act.