December 1, 2003
Noise Free America
For immediate release
Madison: The Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) Action Network of Diamond Bar, California has won this month’s Noisy Dozen award from Noise Free America for secretly lobbying state legislators to change vehicle exhaust codes. SEMA member companies have flooded the United States with noisy exhausts that are illegal for use on cars in most states by using the deceptive phrase “50-state legal.” SEMA protects its members’ ill-gotten gains at the expense of the health, safety, and security of American communities.
SEMA represents the $27 billion automotive aftermarket industry and has 5,222 member companies. SEMA works at the federal level through the 74-member Congressional Automotive Performance and Motorsports Caucus. The SEMA Action Network lobbies state legislators via 6,500 car clubs and individual enthusiasts in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
Mark Huber stated that “in October 2002, California Governor Gray Davis signed SEMA’s pro-noise legislation into law. Since then, it has managed to get its legislation passed in Washington, Maine, and New Hampshire, and has killed peace and quiet legislation in Massachusetts.” Huber also noted that “when private citizens make their case against noise pollution, they are often targeted by members of car clubs. In fact, several proponents of peace and quiet in the Richmond, Virginia area have been threatened and harrassed by members of the Central Virginia Mustang Club.”
Huber notes that “the exhaust noise legislation that SEMA sponsors uses the dB(A) metric, which does not measure low frequencies. Popular exhaust companies such as Flowmaster and GReddy market their products as having a ‘deep, aggressive rumble.’ In fact, GReddy describes its exhausts as ‘complying with 95 dB(A) limits’ and as having a ‘low frequency sports sound.’ The truth is that a measurement of 95 dB(A) 20 inches from a car’s exhaust pipe will be heard and felt in people’s homes at a great distance. SEMA’s legislation makes about as much sense as boom car legislation which does not account for thumping BASS.”
A loud exhaust “enthusiast” who calls himself “Slammaster” wrote to SEMA’s newsletter, Driving Force, “I see where California recently passed a gearhead-friendly law for cars equipped with after-market exhaust systems. That rocks! My only question is how do we get something similar passed in my state” of Virginia? The writer notes that “I used to be a thug and the minitruckin’ hobby helped me pull out by giving me something positive and creative to do with my time.” The editor responded, “I think everyone in the vehicle hobby would agree that owning, customizing, and caring for a minitruck is a damn site better than thuggery.”
Ted Rueter, Noise Free America’s director, commented that “SEMA claims to be fighting to ‘preserve the rights of enthusiasts to use and enjoy their vehicles.’ SEMA claims that noise terrorists have ‘constitutional rights’ and are being ‘victimized’ by law enforcement authorities. In reality, SEMA violates the right of average citizens to be undisturbed in their homes. SEMA is part of America’s massive noise industrial complex, which is responsible for the destruction of peace and quiet.”
According to Huber, a resident of Richmond, Virginia, “Retailers that sell noisy exhausts that are illegal for use on Virginia roads are everywhere in Richmond, Henrico County, and Chesterfield County. They drain the resources of our underfunded police forces and drive away other businesses. The Comfort Inn of Richmond cannot fill the rooms on the Broad Street side because of the constant roaring and booming of ‘rice rockets,’ ‘muscle cars,’ and ‘boom cars.’ These products belong on race tracks, not on our streets and in our neighborhoods.”
Huber also stated that “it is hard to believe that SEMA can get away with promoting legislation that diminishes the public’s ability to detect terrorism by selling dangerous, illegal, noisy products–especially after President Bush told us that America must ‘rely on the eyes and ears of alert citizens.’ So far, none of Virginia’s key elected officials–Governor Warner, Attorney General Kilgore, or Commonwealth Preparedness Secretary Hager–have spoken up against this threat to dometic security. It is time for them to take action.”
Noise Free America is a national citizens group dedicated to opposing noise pollution. Past “winners” of the Noisy Dozen award include Flowmaster, Governors Gray Davis and Jesse Ventura, and the Massachusetts Department of Education. Noise Free America’s web site is http://www.noisefree.org.