By John Stewart
UPDATE 3/10/16: Members of the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate have introduced a new bill (HR 4715 and S.2659) that will clarify the Clean Air Act to explain it has always been legal to modify a street vehicle into a race car.
What You Can Do: In order to help get the bill passed, you can write your Congressional Reps and Senators to Support the RPM Act at www.sema.org/rpmletter.
Last week SEMA informed its members and the racing public of an important proposed U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulation aiming to make it illegal to convert street vehicles into cars used exclusively at the track. The proposed regulations have been met with overwhelming opposition. Some of the important developments over the past week include:
- A SEMA-initiated White House Petition opposing the EPA-proposed regulation, which has quickly gained more than 149,000 signatures
- Opposition among numerous members of Congress, including opposition statements from Reps. Doug LaMalfa (R-CA) and Austin Scott (R-GA), to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy during a U.S. House of Representatives hearing.
- Reporting by significant independent media outlets advancing the discussion and creating broad public awareness about the proposed regulation.
A sampling of positive media reports appearing over the past week include:
“SEMA is pleased with the enormous response we’ve seen in opposition to this proposed regulation,” said SEMA President and CEO Chris Kersting. Noting that some of the media coverage has characterized SEMA’s opposition as an overreaction, Kersting added, “Despite EPA’s statements that the agency does not intend to enforce the law against race-car owners, the agency is, in fact, writing new law into the regulations. As a result, if this proposal is finalized, the racing community and parts makers would forevermore be operating outside of that law and could be targeted for enforcement at a future date. We don’t consider it an overreaction to try to prevent this new interpretation from becoming law.”
In more than 46 years since the Clean Air Act was passed, SEMA is unaware of a single instance of the EPA taking the position that regulations pertaining to street vehicles also apply to vehicles that are removed from the road and converted for race-use-only purposes.
“Given that this issue is shaping up as a matter of interpretation of the Clean Air Act, a clear statutory exemption in the law may be necessary for vehicles used solely for racing, whether converted from street vehicles or purpose built,” Kersting continued. “Accordingly, SEMA is working closely with its congressional allies who agree that the Clean Air Act does not support EPA’s new interpretation of the statute.”