EPA targets racing enthusiasts with emissions rules

Aftermarket auto part industry insiders are warning that new Environmental Protection Agency proposals targeting greenhouse gas emissions would make it illegal for auto enthusiasts to convert street cars into racecars.

Until now, automobiles used solely for racing and other recreational activities have been excluded from the strict emission standards the EPA mandates for street legal vehicles.

But according to the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA), a trade group representing the aftermarket auto part industry, the agency is working to ban the sale of certain emissions-related performance parts.

The EPA is using the Clean Air Act, which gives it the authority to regulate road-going vehicles, to justify the change.

In a massive 629-page document published last year in the Federal Register, the EPA declares:

Certified motor vehicles 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 non-road vehicles or engines; anyone modifying a certified motor vehicle or motor vehicle engine for any reason is subject to the tampering and defeat device prohibitions of paragraph (a)(3) of this section and 42 U.S.C.

The text appears to be aimed at prohibiting the removal of manufacturer-provided emissions equipment and catalytic converters from passenger vehicles being converted for track use. Violations could result in steep fines and other criminal penalties.

SEMA representatives are vowing to fight the rule change, which the EPA plans to finalize by summer of this year.

“This proposed regulation represents overreaching by the agency, runs contrary to the law and defies decades of racing activity where EPA has acknowledged and allowed conversion of vehicles,” SEMA CEO Chris Kersting said in a statement. “Congress did not intend the original Clean Air Act to extend to vehicles modified for racing and has re-enforced that intent on more than one occasion.”

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