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Time to Tell EPA to Back Off

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When I was a kid, if I wanted to get away with something, I learned how to bend the truth and not give my parents the whole story. Or, if I DID tell them what was going on, it was in the middle of a completely different story.

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It didn’t work of course – my parents were far too smart to be fooled by what I thought was a cleverly concocted smokescreen. And of course, they let me know in no uncertain terms that I wouldn’t get away with it.

It looks like something similar is happening right now that – unless we all band together to show this industry’s collective strength – could have deleterious effects on the performance aftermarket.

A proposal by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) seeks to make it illegal to convert vehicles originally designed for on-road use into racecars. The regulation would also make the sale of cerain products for use on such vehicles  illegal.

Nothing really suprising there – after all, the government has been coming after your racecar for at least the last 30 years or so…but this new ban was included in a single paragraph of a hefty propsal called the “Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Fuel Efficiency Standards for Medium- and Heavy-Duty Engines and Vehicles—Phase 2” – a nearly 700-page document that is seen by some to be nothing but camouflage for that paragraph.

According to SEMA, the 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.

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“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.”

Here’s what the proposal says on page 391: “There is no prohibition against actual use of certified motor vehicles or motor vehicle engines for competition purposes; however, it is not permissible to remove a motor vehicle or motor vehicle engine from its certified configuration regardless of the purpose for doing so.” In other words, you can still race a racecar – you just can’t build one.

The EPA plans to publish final regulations by July 2016. In the meantime, SEMA hopes everyone in this industry – you, your friends, your customers, your mother – will let your voices be heard. SEMA has submitted comments in opposition to the regulation and met with the EPA to confirm the agency’s intentions. 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.

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SEMA’s lobbying arm wrote a petition to fight the legislation (read about it at http://bit.ly/1V6oti0). They hoped to have at least 100,000 names on the petition within 30 days, and as of this writing, already received 116,000 signatures.

However things shake out, I encourage you to stay vigilant, join that list and let the EPA know that this attack on a $36 billion industry can’t be hidden.  n

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