The “Recognizing the Protection of Motorsports Act of 2016” (RPM Act) simply clarifies the Clean Air Act to explain that it has always been legal to modify a street vehicle into a racecar used exclusively at the track. The bill also confirms that modifying these vehicles for exclusive track use would not be considered tampering.
In July 2015, the EPA issued a proposed rule that would prohibit the conversion of emissions-certified vehicles into racecars. It would also make it illegal to sell any emissions-related parts for those cars.
The EPA’s specific regulatory prohibition includes the following: “Certified motor vehicle and motor vehicle engines and their emission control devices must remain in their certified configuration even if they are used solely for competition or if they become nonroad vehicles and engines; anyone modifying a certified motor vehicle or motor vehicle engine for any reason is subject to the tampering and defeat device prohibitions.”
The EPA contends this is “tampering” and that a vehicle is forever a “motor vehicle” subject to the Clean Air Act, even if it is unregistered, the license have been plates removed and the vehicle is never driven on the highway.
The full regulation can be found here: Access the “Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Fuel Efficiency Standards for Medium- and Heavy-Duty Engines and Vehicles--Phase 2 (Use the search function to locate this provision within the proposed regulation: “PART 86--CONTROL OF EMISSIONS FROM NEW AND IN-USE HIGHWAY VEHICLES AND ENGINES”)
This proposal is in conflict with the intent of Congress. Congress has always prohibited the EPA from regulating racecars, and racecars are not included in the Clean Air Act’s (CAA) definition of “motor vehicle.” Further, the legislative history and 1990 CAA amendments covering off-road vehicles confirms Congressional intent not to regulate any “vehicle used solely for competition.” At the same time, the EPA already has authority to enforce against anyone who offers, sells or installs products that knowingly take a street vehicle out-of-compliance. This regulation is an unnecessary and overreaching enforcement tool.
While the EPA has recently issued a Notice of Data Availability, which temporarily reopens this specific portion of the rule for comment, this action has no bearing on the agency’s erroneous interpretation of the law. The RPM Act remains necessary to ensure that these racecars are exempt from EPA regulation in perpetuity.
The rule is scheduled to be finalized by July 2016.
The EPA’s proposed regulation would affect Americans with any vehicle, including the sports cars, sedans and hatch-backs, that start its life as a street car or motorcycle if it was originally certified to federal emissions standards. Federal emissions standards have been effective since 1968, so the EPA’s prohibition would cover all motor vehicles dating back to that year. Note, the prohibition would not impact purpose-built racecars like those used today in NASCAR, nor would it apply to “nonroad vehicles” (dirt bikes, ATVs, snowmobiles and boats) that are used exclusively for racing.
The EPA’s proposed regulation would have a devastating impact on motorsports since many types of racing rely on production vehicles that have been modified for use strictly at the track. It would also decimate the industry that supplies the products used in motorsports. The specialty equipment automotive aftermarket employs about one million Americans across all 50 states. Current retail sales of racing products make up a $1.4 billion annual market. We estimate the number of jobs lost as a result of the regulation would be considerable. The EPA has failed to conduct an economic analysis, regulatory-flexibility analysis or small business analysis, as required under law.
Regulators have already targeted manufacturers, distributors and retailers under current Clean Air Act authority. Installers may be the next target. Even if the EPA doesn’t go after individual racers, the expanded regulatory authority being proposed will have a chilling effect on the supply chain. Legitimate racing products may no longer be developed and sold, and businesses may no longer be willing to modify vehicles.
While Congress has already prohibited the EPA from regulating racecars, the RPM Act will address any doubts the agency may have by clarifying sections 203 and 216 of the Clean Air Act.
Converting a vehicle into a dedicated racecar is part of American heritage. Until now, it has been an unquestioned practice by enthusiasts, industry and regulators that has worked harmoniously with previous application of the Clean Air Act. Further, the public and regulated industry need certainty regarding how the Clean Air Act is applied, and Congress needs to confirm that it has ultimate authority.
Passage of the “RPM Act” will end the debate and protect our nation’s racing industry and pastime.