WASHINGTON -- The EPA said it will drop controversial language from a proposed heavy- and medium-duty truck rule that had sparked fears of a new agency ban on street-to-race car conversions and recent scrutiny from Republican lawmakers.
The language was tucked inside a 629-page proposal published last June to slash carbon emissions by medium- and heavy-duty trucks. In February, the Specialty Equipment Market Association, a trade group for auto aftermarket companies, rang the alarm bell by saying the EPA sought to prohibit the type of modifications made to street cars converted for racing use that amateur racers have taken to the track for decades.
The EPA said at the time that, technically, tampering with emissions controls on road-going vehicles has long been prohibited, but the ban was aimed at companies selling sell parts and accessories that disable emissions controls, not racers who modify cars to race on the track. The proposed language was intended to clarify existing regulations, the agency contended.
“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,” the EPA said on its website. “Since our attempt to clarify led to confusion, EPA has decided to eliminate the proposed language from the final rule.”
The EPA has received scores of public comments decrying any move to prohibit race car conversions.
On Tuesday, Republican leaders of the House Energy and Commerce Committee sent EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy letter seeking legal justification for the proposed race car modification language.
“We remain doubtful that this proposed policy change complies with Congressional intent, which we believe is to exempt racing vehicles from the Clean Air Act’s provisions,” committee chairman Fred Upton, R-Mich., Energy and Power subcommittee chairman Ed Whitfield R-Kan., and committee member Rep. Richard Hudson, R-N.C., said in the letter.
In a statement Friday, the congressmen said they were pleased that EPA ended their “gambit to regulate auto racing.”