Raids on aftermarket auto part vendors by the Environmental Protection Agency for evidence of emissions violations standards are harming the classic car industry, says Sen. Jim Lankford.
Lankford, an Oklahoma Republican and a member of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, told the Washington Examiner he recently took an interest in bipartisan legislation reintroduced in the House by Rep. Patrick McHenry, a North Carolina Republican, and Rep. Raul Ruiz, a California Democrat, known as the Recognizing the Protection of Motorsports Act.
The legislation, which has 61 Republican and 21 Democratic co-sponsors, aims to make clear that converting a street vehicle by emissions-related changes for exclusively competition purposes is legal. Additionally, it would affirm that manufacturing, selling, and installing racing parts into a vehicle is a legal act.
The bill aims to reverse the EPA’s National Compliance Initiative, which focuses on halting the manufacture, sale, and installation of emissions “defeat devices” on vehicles and engines used on public roads, as well as on non-road vehicles and engines.
"Illegally modified vehicles and engines contribute substantial excess pollution that harms public health and impedes efforts by the EPA, tribes, states, and local agencies to plan for and attain air quality standards," the EPA argued.
McHenry, in an interview with the Washington Examiner, noted that the EPA only recently began targeting converted vehicles through a new interpretation of the four-decade-old legislation.
“It was a bad idea in 2016, and it was a novel interpretation of the Clean Air Act. You can take a fairly old piece of legislation and apply it in a new way that's never been applied before and an exemption that has been understood for quite a while that [included] off-road vehicles, and in particular, motorsports,” the North Carolina Republican said. “They can modify cars for off-road use. So, this is a targeted piece of legislation to fix a targeted problem."
While the legislation is presently exclusive to vehicles that are converted for competition purposes, Lankford says his office started going through the issue last week after groups in the classic car community reached out to him and explained how difficult it is to get hold of car parts for their vehicles, some of which may have diesel engines.
“It's even classic cars. The guys that aren't even racing. Just classic car collectors. Guys that take a car from the 1950s and ’60s and wanted to be able to fix it up. They do a great paint job on it, drive it on weekends, and go to car shows,” Lankford told the Washington Examiner. “Those folks are having a hard time getting access to parts.”
He said: “A lot of their manufacturers don't make that part anymore because not enough of them are on the road, and so, they use the secondary market. And for the EPA to make it very hard to be able to do that, it's basically pushing everyone that's a collector of classic cars, or that just drives an older vehicle, to not have the availability of the parts that they need.”
Last March, the EPA, based on its interpretation of the Clean Air Act, penalized Premier Performance, one of the nation’s largest sellers of aftermarket automotive parts, $3 million for selling emissions-control defeat devices.
The Specialty Equipment Market Association, a trade association of manufacturers, distributors, retailers, publishing companies, auto restorers, street rod builders, restylers, car clubs, and race teams, has been pushing the RPM Act on Capitol Hill since it was first introduced by McHenry in 2016.
"There are many challenges facing the automotive aftermarket industry, including registering collector vehicles on the state level, the availability of parts for the restoration of vehicles, and the ability to modify a street vehicle into a dedicated race car,” SEMA Vice President of Government and Legal Affairs Daniel Ingber said in a statement to the Washington Examiner. “The RPM Act would ensure that racers who modify their vehicles for use exclusively in competitions will be able to continue to do so."
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Original Author: Kerry Picket