New environmental regulations on emissions from medium- and heavy-duty trucks could cripple the auto racing industry by banning the conversion of street vehicles into racing vehicles, three top House Republicans warned Tuesday.
In a letter to Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy, House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton, R-Mich., Rep. Ed Whitfield, R-Ky., and Rep. Richard Hudson, R-N.C., warned that the regulations could go against congressional intent in the Clean Air Act.
The EPA has long allowed the modification of vehicles for racing, and the lawmakers argued street vehicles modified for racing were always tacitly exempted from the Clean Air Act. The proposed rule on greenhouse gas emissions from medium- and heavy-duty trucks would prohibit the conversion of street vehicles into racing vehicles.
"This problematic proposed change is made more troubling by the manner in which it was introduced," the letter states. "Buried in the middle of a lengthy and unrelated rule, it went unnoticed by nearly all interested parties until after the comment period came to a close."
"Even when EPA staff briefed this committee about the proposed rule shortly after it was introduced last July, no mention was made of these proposed racing provisions."
Sen. Marco Rubio first raised his concerns about the EPA racing rule in February, turning it into a presidential campaign issue.
The rule is expected to be finalized in July, but the EPA recently reopened the public comment period after much backlash.
The letter states the EPA has not done an analysis showing the expected environmental impact of banning vehicle modification for racing. In addition, there is no analysis on what impact the proposed rule could have on the racing industry that has sprung up in the last four decades.
"Thousands of racing enthusiasts … own these vehicles and [they] have had every reason to believe that what they were doing was legal," the letter states. "Overnight, these vehicle owners may be considered lawbreakers by the EPA and potentially subject to penalties similar to those Volkswagen now faces for allegedly using 'defeat devices' to pass EPA emissions tests."
The lawmakers asked the EPA to put the proposed change through its own rulemaking procedure, including environmental, economic and statutory analysis.
The three lawmakers asked McCarthy to answer why the EPA made the decision to ban the conversion of street vehicles to racing vehicles, what the environmental rationale is, what language in the Clean Air Act it relied on to make this change, if owners of racing vehicles have received adequate notice and what analysis of the economic impact to the industry the EPA has done.
"We plan to review and respond to the letter," said Laura Allen, spokeswoman with the EPA.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story misidentified the state Rep. Richard Hudson represents. The Washington Examiner regrets the error.