Republicans say EPA rules would stall racing industry

House Republicans are sounding the alarm over a proposed Environmental Protection Agency rule on carbon dioxide emissions that they fear would cripple the racing industry.

A trio of lawmakers said language tucked into the agency’s rule would ban the conversion of street cars into race cars, which they maintain have typically been exempt from EPA’s regulation of motor vehicles under the Clean Air Act.

The changes could affect hobbyists and the companies that manufacture, distribute and sell racing parts.

“An entire industry has grown around the modification of EPA-certified cars, motorcycles and other vehicles for racing purposes,” the three lawmakers wrote a letter Tuesday to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthyRegina (Gina) McCarthyOvernight Energy: Senate Dems introduce Green New Deal alternative | Six Republicans named to House climate panel | Wheeler confirmed to lead EPA Overnight Energy: Joshua Tree National Park lost M in fees due to shutdown | Dem senator, AGs back case against oil giants | Trump officials secretly shipped plutonium to Nevada Overnight Energy: Ethics panel clears Grijalva over settlement with staffer | DC aims to run on 100 percent clean energy by 2032 | Judges skeptical of challenge to Obama smog rule MORE. “Now, the legality of this industry has been called into question by the EPA.”

The lawmakers are asking for the agency’s legal justification for the proposed rule to slash greenhouse gas emissions by medium- and heavy-duty vehicles.

The rule was proposed last summer and is expected to be finalized this July. Following backlash from the industry, the agency reopened its public comment period to end April 1 to get more feedback from stakeholders.

Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.), Energy and Power Subcommittee Chairman Ed WhitfieldWayne (Ed) Edward WhitfieldWhy Republicans took aim at an ethics watchdog What Azerbaijan wants from Israel? Overnight Energy: Green group sues Exxon over climate science MORE (R-Ky.) and Rep. Richard Hudson (R-N.C.) signed the letter.

In 1990, Congress permitted the EPA to regulate “nonroad vehicles” but excluded any “vehicle used solely for competition” from the definition.

Republicans say the proposed EPA regulation would mandate that certified motor vehicles, engines and their emission control devices must remain in their certified configuration, even if they are used for competition.

The House lawmakers are also seeking answers on whether the EPA has studied the economic impact of the proposal on the racing industry and whether current owners of certified vehicles that have been modified for racing would be in violation of the law.

An EPA spokeswoman said the agency will review and respond to the letter, but emphasized that cars built exclusively for racing – like NASCAR and IndyCar – are not regulated by the Clean Air Act.

“EPA remains primarily concerned with cases where the vehicle is used on public roads, and more specifically with aftermarket manufacturers who sell devices that defeat emissions control systems on vehicles used on public roads,” the spokeswoman said in a statement.

Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.) is backing a measure, H.R. 4715, to clarify that vehicles used solely for competition are exempt from certain provisions of the Clean Air Act.
 
The House Science, Space and Technology Subcommittee on Oversight held a hearing on the issue last month.
 
“The EPA has placed onerous regulations on nearly every aspect of our economy — from energy production to agriculture — and now they are coming after Americans' hobbies,” McHenry said in a statement. “For years my constituents have been free to modify vehicles for competitive use on closed tracks without government interference.”