It may soon be much harder to race on the grassroots level if the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has their way.
This website is rarely a digest of political commentary, but the threat the EPA’s proposed legislation could pose to the heart and soul of short track racing in the future makes it all too necessary.
The government agency which was forged in 1970 to protect the environment with regulations for cleaner air and safe drinking water (how’s that working out for people in Flint, Michigan?) has, over time, become militant in many ways. The agency’s regulations have made lives harder for America’s working poor and rural Americans. There is even evidence that the EPA’s regulations are directly to blame for the rise of predatory and invasive species in the United States.
Now, while ignoring the biggest causes of man-made climate change, the EPA wants to make itself look effective by targeting grassroots racers. Proposed regulation titled “Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Fuel Efficiency Standards for Medium- and Heavy-Duty Engines and Vehicles—Phase2” seeks to prohibit the conversion of on-road vehicles into racecars and ban the sale of certain parts for those cars, according to the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA). SEMA plans to fight the regulation.
For oval racing, this could essentially outlaw many of the support classes, such as U-CARs, Mini-Stocks and Street Stocks. In short track racing, these divisions are often the backbone of their respective racetracks. While the feature divisions are Late Models, Super Late Models or Modifieds, it’s these divisions that keep short track racing alive.
This would also impact sportsman level drag racing and road racing as well.
“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 President and CEO Chris Kersting was quoted of saying in an article on the Hot Rod Network’s website. “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.”
(The EPA put out a statement insisting that grassroots racers would not be affected by the legislation due to existing regulations)
The EPA proposal is just the latest example of overreach from the department under the presidency of Barack Obama. It is also not the first time militant environmental activists, which the EPA has seemingly evolved into, has targeted motorsports as a means of combating the very real threat posed by climate change.
Environmentalists have attempted to, in the past, pressure the EPA into monitoring lead in the air at NASCAR races and even advocated for a ban on auto racing. In fact, when new racetracks are proposed, or long-standing racetracks are threatened, the arguments are often environmental as to why a racetrack should not open for business.
Despite how common auto racing is, the threat it poses to the environment is minimal compared to methane emissions which is the leading cause of man-made climate change. To make it sound as absurd as it is, cow farts pose a greater risk to the planet than auto racing.
The bright side is it’s not likely this legislation would actually pass in a Republican controlled Congress that has, since 2010, specialized in not passing much of anything. In fact, it’s unlikely this proposal will even get support from the Obama Administration or from liberal Democrats who need the support of states like North Carolina and Virginia if Hillary Clinton (or Bernie Sanders) is to be elected President of the United States. And there will be a lot of money put up by SEMA and by racers who seek to join SEMA in their fight to prevent these regulations from becoming law.
This won’t be the last time the EPA or radical environmentalists take aim at auto racing in their otherwise noble fight to save the planet from the very real threat of climate change. But, it’s also not very likely their attempts will ever win the argument at the end of the day.
Maybe, instead of trying to curtail American recreational liberties, the federal government should start putting pressure on the world’s largest polluter – China.