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EPA Maintains Racing and Competition Exclusion


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EPA and NHTSA recently released new highway emission standards for heavy duty vehicles and engines to reduce air pollution and greenhouse gases (referred to as “Phase 2”). In the final rule, EPA provided responses that confirm and validate prior racing and competition vehicle engine exclusions from their regulatory programs. While at first glance this may seem to be the status quote and of little concern, the reality is that it could have become a major concern for the racing community. On July 13, 2015, EPA and NHTSA proposed “Phase 2” standards for heavy duty vehicle and engine rules which sought revisions to a host of regulations maintained by both EPA and NHTSA regarding emission reductions to these classes of vehicles and engines. Buried in this 629 page document was a proposal to add the following language:


“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 nonroad vehicles or engines”. 80 Fed. Reg. 40138, 40565 (July 13, 2015).


This proposed language implies that EPA had a change of thought and was no longer supporting their long standing position of regulatory exclusions for racing and competition vehicles. Additionally frustrating was that this language appeared as part of a large regulatory proposal unrelated to light duty vehicles such as cars and motorcycles without notice to appropriate stakeholders (all of us in the racing community).


Many think that if they operate engines void of air pollution control devices or modified for improved performance on private land and race tracks that the EPA rules don’t apply (i.e. EPA rules only apply on public roads). Unfortunately, that is not correct as EPA has broad reach for air pollution control, air pollution control devices and defeat devices on vehicles and their rules do apply to public and private lands. EPA has emission rules for nonroad engines such as dirt bikes, snow mobiles and marine engines, all categories that generally are not operated on public roads. Therefore, the public vs. private road discussion is limited. The more important exclusion is for racing and competition engines.


Eventually the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA), the American Motorcycle Association (AMA) and others were alerted to this proposed language and they jumped all over it. Both organizations sent letters to EPA and NHTSA opposing this proposed language and expressing frustration that they were not consulted or alerted to this proposal. As a result of their actions (and many others) EPA did not include this language in their final rule. Additionally, EPA provided the following comments on their decision to remove this language:


“The language in the proposal regarding vehicles used for competition was intended to clarify how the

Clean Air Act requirements apply for vehicles used on public roads. EPA’s focus is not (nor has it ever

been) on vehicles built or used exclusively for racing, but on companies that violate the rules by making

and selling products that disable pollution controls on motor vehicles used on public roads. These

unlawful defeat devices lead to harmful pollution and adverse health effects. The proposed language

was not intended to represent a change in the law or in EPA’s policies or practices towards dedicated

competition vehicles. Since our attempt to clarify led to confusion, EPA has decided to eliminate the

proposed language from the final rule.”


Therefore, the racing and competition exclusion appears to be healthy and in full effect.

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