WASHINGTON—The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has withdrawn language from its pending Phase 2 greenhouse gas rule that potentially would have forbidden the conversion of street vehicles into race cars.
However, the Specialty Equipment Market Association—which led the fight against the modified race car proposal—said passage of legislation affirming the legality of street vehicle conversion is still necessary to preserve the rights of the racing industry.
The EPA announced April 15 that it was removing the language, which SEMA and its allies began protesting in February. The language was part of the agency's proposed Phase 2 greenhouse gas standards for medium- and heavy-duty engines.
“The proposed language in the July 2015 proposal was never intended to represent any change in the law or in EPA's policies or practices toward dedicated competition vehicles,” the agency said in a document on its website.
The EPA said it wanted to clarify its position on the modification of street vehicles into race cars, but the resulting confusion led it to withdraw the language in the proposed rule.
“EPA supports motorsports and its contributions to the American economy and communities all across the country,” the agency said. “EPA's focus is not on vehicles built or used exclusively for racing, but on companies that don't play by the rules and that make and sell products that disable pollution controls on motor vehicles used on public roads.”
In an April 15 statement, SEMA President and CEO Peter McGillivray thanked Congress for pushing the EPA to withdraw the modified race car language. However, he said, that is not enough.
“The agency continues to assert new-found authority under the Clean Air Act to regulate modification of vehicles for use in competition,” McGillivray said. “This means that those converting and racing competition vehicles, and the parts and services industries that support them, do so under new EPA policy that considers the activity illegal.”
Passage of the Recognizing the Protection of Motorsports (RPM) Act or similar clarifying legislation is needed to fully protect the racing industry, he said. The RPM Act confirms the legality of converting street vehicles into vehicles intended solely for the racetrack.
SEMA has created a model letter supporting the RPM Act for its members to sign and send to their legislators on Capitol Hill. The letter can be found at www.sema.org/rpmletter.
The EPA document withdrawing the modified race car language can be found at https://www3.epa.gov/otaq/climate/regs-heavy-duty.htm.