Bill to ease dealers' emissions paperwork sails through Congress

Forrest McConnell: "Requiring dealerships to fill out a form to recertify that a new vehicle complies with the Clean Air Act is redundant and unnecessary."
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WASHINGTON -- Federal legislation favored by auto dealers as a way to reduce paperwork cleared its final congressional hurdle on Thursday when the U.S. Senate passed the bill without a roll-call vote and sent it to President Obama.

The bill, introduced at the urging of the National Automobile Dealers Association, would strike a paragraph of the Clean Air Act that requires dealers to present vehicle buyers with written confirmation that the dealers have visually inspected the emissions system of new vehicles and that the system complies with legal requirements.

The law was passed in 1977 when vehicles began being equipped with catalytic converters to clean up smog. At the time, the EPA worried that catalytic converters, which contain precious metals such as platinum, might be removed before sale.

Dealers argue that the requirement has become obsolete because tampering with emissions-control equipment is now rare. Such tampering would remain illegal under the bill that Congress passed.

“All new cars and light trucks delivered to dealerships from the factory already come with documentation that the vehicles conform to federal emission laws,” NADA Chairman Forrest McConnell, a Honda and Acura dealer in Montgomery, Ala., said in a statement today. “Requiring dealerships to fill out a form to recertify that a new vehicle complies with the Clean Air Act is redundant and unnecessary.”

A bill introduced in the U.S. House by Reps. Gary Peters, D-Mich., and Bob Latta, R-Ohio, passed on a 405-0 vote in January. Its companion bill in the Senate was introduced by Sens. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., and Deb Fischer, R-Neb.

President Obama is expected to sign the legislation.

You can reach Gabe Nelson at gnelson@crain.com.


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