SEMA challenges EPA’s interpretation of the Clean Air Act

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Unsplash/Danny Sleeuwenhoek

The Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) is fighting the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s contention that the Clean Air Act (CAA) does not allow a motor vehicle to be converted into a racing vehicle used solely for competition.

SEMA, reiterating the importance of the 2016 “Recognizing the Protection of Motorsports (RPM) Act,” filed an amicus brief in an Arizona lawsuit between the EPA and Gear Box Z, Inc. (GBZ). The EPA asserts that once a vehicle has been certified as a street vehicle, it cannot be converted into a racing vehicle, even if that vehicle is trailered to the track and is never driven on public roads. In a press release, SEMA says the RPM Act “already clarifies that it is legal to make emissions-related changes to a racecar,” and “the agency’s interpretation breaks from the plain language of the CAA, the legislative history, and EPA’s regulations and guidance.”

The EPA first pursued its controversial interpretation of the CAA in 2015, but dropped it following a public outcry that was initiated by SEMA. The following year, members of Congress introduced SEMA-sponsored legislation to confirm what had been generally understood for the previous 45 years: that the Clean Air Act does not apply to vehicles modified for racing use only.

“The recent lawsuit reinforces the importance of the RPM Act,” says Daniel Ingber, SEMA Vice President of Legal and Government Affairs. “The legislation is consistent with the intention of the Clean Air Act and the way it was interpreted for decades. It is vital that Congress pass the RPM Act to put an end to EPA overreach.”

The Gear Box Z case is before the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona.

Prior to taking a stand in the GBZ case, SEMA went to court to force the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to complete regulations promised by the passage of the Low Volume Motor Vehicle Manufacturers Act in 2015. Those regulations were finally released in January 2021.

We’ll keep you posted on SEMA’s latest showdown with the EPA.

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