Charging Forward: Us vs. Them

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The EPA Has Recently Set Their Sights on the High-Performance Aftermarket and Racing Enthusiasts

Last week, the automotive aftermarket was rocked with potentially very bad news for car guys the world over. A recent EPA regulation proposing the prohibition of converting road-going production vehicles into race cars from every level of the sport; be it the casual entrust to the professional racer, was pitched to Congress.

You can make the case that similar proposals have brought forward with very little to no outcome, but with the ever-increasing strict policies being put through regarding emissions and fuel consumption in passenger vehicles, this sort of thing is only going to become increasingly popular for those with a Clean Air agenda.

Many of you might not realize it, but the high-performance aftermarket employs well over 4.2 million people, including your author, and also consists of roughly 7,000 companies around the world. If a policy like this goes into effect, we would see a breakdown of epic proportions

SEMA has recently gotten involved and have weighed in on the latest EPA proposal in a big way. You can read about what exactly is going on, below:

Official SEMA Release:

— SEMA to Oppose Action as Threat to Modified Racecars and Parts Suppliers —

Washington, DC (February 8, 2016) – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed a regulation to prohibit conversion of vehicles originally designed for on-road use into racecars. The regulation would also make the sale of certain products for use on such vehicles illegal. The proposed regulation was contained within a non-related proposed regulation entitled “Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Fuel Efficiency Standards for Medium- and Heavy-Duty Engines and Vehicles—Phase 2.” 


6LESPLITTER-4The regulation would impact all vehicle types, including the sports cars, sedans and hatch-backs commonly converted strictly for use at the track. While the Clean Air Act prohibits certain modifications to motor vehicles, it is clear that vehicles built or modified for racing, and not used on the streets, are not the “motor vehicles” that Congress intended to regulate.

“This proposed regulation represents overreaching by the agency, runs contrary to the law and defies decades of racing activity where EPA has acknowledged and allowed conversion of vehicles,” said SEMA President and CEO Chris Kersting. “Congress did not intend the original Clean Air Act to extend to vehicles modified for racing and has re-enforced that intent on more than one occasion.”

SEMA submitted comments in opposition to the regulation and met with the EPA to confirm the agency’s intentions. 2015OptimaGMEFI-12The EPA indicated that the regulation would prohibit conversion of vehicles into racecars and make the sale of certain emissions-related parts for use on converted vehicles illegal.

Working with other affected organizations, including those representing legions of professional and hobbyist racers and fans, SEMA will continue to oppose the regulation through the administrative process and will seek congressional support and judicial intervention as necessary. The EPA has indicated it expects to publish final regulations by July 2016.

After that release was first published and went very viral, a White House Petition was submitted on behalf of SEMA, opposing the EPA proposal. The petition is still accepting signatures as of this writing and has received nearly 150,000 signatures from professional racers, tuners, media guys (like yours truly), aftermarket representatives and even the weekend warrior.

The response was so overwhelming, that SEMA had created a follow-up release updating all of us to the situation:

Official SEMA Release:

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.

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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 

2015OptimaGMEFI-5becoming 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.”

That was just issued the other day, and although I don’t believe that there’s absolutely any way it’ll get passed, we can’t let the politicians in Washington control our lives any more than they do now. I’d rather not risk it. Because not only will they be depriving us of our favorite hobby, the livelihood of millions of families will ultimately be sacrificed.

I urge you to sign and support the petition today, and to send your state representative either an email, letter or a phone call to let them know how you feel! I’m all for clean air, clean water and an overall healthy environment to pass on for generations, but it should not come to the cost of millions of Americans today.

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