Help Pass the RPM Act This Year

SEMA News—April 2020

Help Pass the RPM Act This Year

Chris Kersting

Chris Kersting

Readers may recall that the current EPA interpretation of the Clean Air Act does not allow any motor vehicle designed for street use—car, truck or motorcycle—to be converted into a dedicated racecar. This issue came to SEMA’s attention in 2015, when the EPA took the position that converted vehicles must remain emissions-compliant, even if they are no longer driven on public streets or highways. Although the EPA did not finalize the proposed rule, the agency still maintains that modifying the emissions system of a motor vehicle to convert it for racing is illegal. Manufacturing, selling and installing race parts for converted vehicles would also be a violation. Most recently, the EPA also announced that enforcement against performance tuning and parts is a top priority for 2020.

The RPM Act makes clear that the current EPA interpretation is not what Congress intended. It adds specific language to allow making emissions-related changes to a street vehicle when converting it for competition use. The bill also confirms that it is legal to produce and install racing equipment. The practice of converting street vehicles into dedicated race vehicles dates back decades and has a negligible environmental impact. It is interesting to note that, while California is known for having the strictest emissions laws, the state allows conversion of street vehicles for competition purposes.

SEMA and the industry moved the RPM Act into position for passage during the last session of Congress, but the bill and a raft of other legislation was left unaddressed as a result of congressional stalemate over the federal budget. The recently reintroduced RPM legislation has started with momentum, and the bill has gained growing bipartisan support. The RPM Act is currently supported by 29 co-sponsors in the Senate and 52 in the House—and SEMA is working the halls of Congress to round up more every day.

We are making progress, and it’s due in large part to the support of industry businesses, their employees, customers and racing families. Thanks to all of you, federal legislators have already received more than 125,000 letters at the time of this writing, helping us to push members of key committees to put the legislation up for a vote. If we continue to make our voices heard at the right moments, there is reason to be optimistic that this will be the session that pushes the RPM Act over the goal line. This is where we need your help.

Even if you are one of the hundreds of thousands of enthusiasts who contacted Congress in the past, we need your support again. It takes only a few minutes to visit www.sema.org/rpm and compose your letter of support. Then make a plan to promote the RPM Act on your website and at your business. You can access our toolkit at www.sema.org/rpmtools to download social-media and advertising assets to help you spread the word.

I also want to encourage you to visit your elected representatives in person. An easy way to do that is to attend SEMA’s Washington Rally, to be held this year on May 13 in Washington, D.C. We recognize that not everyone can take time away to visit their lawmakers, but advising your elected officials of your priorities in person can be enormously powerful and a rewarding way to participate in our democracy. If you can’t attend the Rally, contact Eric Snyder (erics@sema.org) in SEMA’s D.C. office to assist in setting up a meeting with your federal legislators while they are in their home offices.

A growing number of Republican and Democrat members of Congress have expressed a desire to support racers and the motorsports parts industry. Our job is to communicate the need to protect an American pastime and maintain jobs in our community.

SEMA recently succeeded in getting the Recognizing the Protection of Motorsports (RPM) Act reintroduced in both the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate, teeing up the bill to become law before this session of Congress expires with the November elections. Our industry and enthusiasts now have a solid but urgent opportunity in Washington, D.C., to make passing the RPM Act a top priority. But we’ll need everyone in the industry and the support of racing enthusiasts to let Congress know that this bill is imperative to us—and that we will be voting in the fall elections.

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