Burr Introduces Bill to Keep EPA from Devastating Amateur Motorsports

January 24, 2017

WASHINGTON –Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) today reintroduced the Recognizing the Protection of Motorsports (RPM) Act, which would stop the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from cracking down on amateur race car mechanics and hobbyists. In 2015, for the first time ever, the Obama administration proposed a rule that would have enabled the EPA to fine amateur motorsports enthusiasts for converting their personal vehicles to racecars. This proposal ran counter to nearly a half century of clear congressional intent under the Clean Air Act. Thankfully, the rulemaking was removed; however, the EPA still views the practice of converting vehicles into racecars as unlawful. The RPM ACT will ensure that no administration will ever be able to overstep its regulatory powers in this area.

“For decades, Congress has made it clear that the EPA does not have the authority to regulate racing vehicles,” said Senator Burr. “The Obama EPA attempted to tell the American people what they can do with their own cars, even though there is a deep tradition of hobbyists who have chosen to upgrade their vehicles when they are removed from public roads. This bipartisan legislation ensures that the intent of the Clean Air Act is upheld and that amateur motorsports is protected for future generations.”

A companion bill, HR 350, was recently reintroduced in the House of Representatives.

About the RPM Act:

Since the first motor vehicle rolled across the assembly line, amateur mechanics and drivers have used hard work and ingenuity to transform their vehicles into racecars. These early pioneers established the framework for today’s thriving American motorsports industry, from the largest racetracks in Daytona Beach and Watkins Glen to the local tracks like Orange County Speedway in North Carolina and the Summit Point Motorsports Park in West Virginia. The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) was founded in 1948, and was initially based on the notion that racers purchase cars from the dealer’s stock and modify them to race. A rule proposed in 2015 by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), attempted to make it illegal to convert an automobile into a racecar if the engine, exhaust, or any other part of the emission system is altered from its stock configuration. Thankfully the purposed rulemaking was withdrawn, as it would have directly attacked the very idea NASCAR was built on, and for which millions of Americans still participate in as competitors and spectators every weekend.

The Motor Vehicle Air Pollution Control Act of 1965 defined the term “motor vehicle” as “any self-propelled vehicle designed for transporting persons or property on a street or highway.”  Congress also included “anti-tampering” language in this law, making it illegal for “any person to remove or render inoperative any device or element of design installed on or in a motor vehicle or motor vehicle engine in compliance with regulations under this title prior to its sale and delivery to the ultimate purchaser.” In 1970, Congress expanded the Clean Air Act’s anti-tampering provision to provide that no person can render the emissions controls inoperative “after such sale and delivery to the ultimate purchaser.”  However, Congress also clarified that the law does not apply to vehicles manufactured or modified for racing.

When it passed the Clean Air Act Amendments passed in 1990, Congress unequivocally excluded vehicles used solely for competition from the definition of “non-road vehicle” (“The term ‘non-road vehicle’ means a vehicle that is powered by a non-road engine and that is not a motor vehicle or a vehicle used solely for competition”).  It is instructive that Congress separated out “vehicles used solely for competition” from “motor vehicles,” as it indicates the term “motor vehicle” was never understood to include “vehicles used solely for competition.”  

After examining the legislative history it is clear that Congress never intended to provide the EPA with the authority to regulate vehicles used solely for competition, including vehicles modified to be used exclusively for racing. While the EPA withdrew the problematic language from the final rule making last year, the agency still maintains that vehicle modification for motorsport is unlawful. 

The Recognizing the Protection of Motorsports Act simply reaffirms what Congress’ position has always been in order to prevent another attack on amateur motorsports in the future.

The bill has 14 co-sponsors in the Senate including Senators Boozman (R-AR), Crapo (R-ID), Donnelly (D-IN), Ernst (R-IA), Fischer (R- NE), Graham (R-SC), Heller (R-NV), Inhofe (R-OK), Manchin (D-WV), Moran (R-KS), Rounds (R-SD), Rubio (R-FL), Tester (D-MT), and Tillis (R-NC).

Organizations Supporting this Bill:

Automobile Competition Committee for the United States (ACCUS-FIA)

American Motorcyclist Association (AMA)

Auto Care Association (Auto Care) 

Automotive Warehouse Distributors Association (AWDA)

California Automotive Wholesalers Association (CAWA)

International Hot Rod Association (IHRA)

Motor and Equipment Manufacturers Association (MEMA)

Motorcycle Industry Council (MIC)

Motorcycle Riders Foundation (MRF)

National Association of Trailer Manufacturers (NATM)

North American Trailer Dealers Association (NATDA)

Off-Road Business Association (ORBA)

Service Station Dealers of America and Allied Trades (SSDA-AT)

Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA)

Tire Industry Association (TIA)