EPA Drops Language Opposed By Specialty Parts Manufacturers, N.C. Lawmakers From Anti-Pollution Proposal | News

EPA Drops Language Opposed By Specialty Parts Manufacturers, N.C. Lawmakers From Anti-Pollution Proposal

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After an outcry from North Carolina's congressional delegation and a group representing after-market car parts manufactuers, the Environmental Protection Agency announced today that it would drop language targeting "defeat devices," commonly used by amateur race car drivers to modify engines, in a proposal to promote fuel efficiency.
Sonoma (CA) Raceway, December 2013 - BRIAN SHAMBLEN / FLICKR CREATIVE COMMONS
  • Brian Shamblen / Flickr Creative Commons
  • Sonoma (CA) Raceway, December 2013

When the proposal was first announced, both of North Carolina's U.S. Senators, Richard Burr and Thom Tillis, and two N.C. Congressmen, Richard Hudson and Patrick McHenry introduced companion bills attempting to stop the EPA from regulating competitive race cars via authority granted to the agency by the Clean Air Act. All four are Republicans.

The largest organization of businesses who make "defeat devices," the Specialty Equipment Market Association, was lobbying to get the EPA to drop the new rule. SEMA told McClatchy back in March that it represents an industry worth $1.4 billion. 

From the EPA's statement:

EPA is committed to protecting public health by ensuring that cars driven on public roads meet pollution standards under the Clean Air Act. Congress required these standards for good reason: emissions from motor vehicles have been linked to premature death in people with heart or lung disease, aggravated asthma, decreased lung function, and increased respiratory problems.

And EPA supports motorsports and its contributions to the American economy and communities all across the country. 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. These unlawful defeat devices pump dangerous and illegal pollution into the air we breathe.

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 towards dedicated competition vehicles. Since our attempt to clarify led to confusion, EPA has decided to eliminate the proposed language from the final rule.

Hudson's communications director Tatum Gibson tells McClatchy that despite the EPA's decision, Hudson still plans to pursue his legislation, called the "Recognizing the Protection of Motorsports Act," which Gibson says is "still needed to give long-term certainty to the industry."

The Union of Concerned Scientists say that cars and trucks cause one-fifth of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. The EPA and the National Traffic Highway Safety Administration say that their proposed standards for medium and heavy duty vehicles, the plan the defeat devices language was included in, will "cut fuel costs by $170 billion and reduce oil consumption by up to 1.8 billion barrels over the lifetime of vehicles sold under the program."

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