February 1, 2016
Chapel Hill: The Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) has won this month’s Noisy Dozen award from Noise Free America: A Coalition to Promote Quiet for opposing the EPA‘s clarification of federal regulations which prohibit defeating the emission control systems of highway and regulated competition vehicles. Those prohibitions include the conversion of highway vehicles into racing vehicles. If SEMA succeeds with this effort, the country will be much noisier.
The EPA emission control system tampering prohibitions have been in effect for years. Modified vehicle enthusiasts often ignore both federal and state environmental regulations and motor vehicle codes and illegally tamper with regulated emission control devices or replace them with non-compliant parts which render their vehicles into environmental air and noise polluters.
A spokesperson for the EPA stated that it is illegal to tamper with or defeat the emission control systems of motor vehicles and the proposed regulation SEMA is opposing simply clarifies the distinction between motor vehicles and non-road vehicles.
SEMA stated it “will continue to oppose the regulation through the administrative process and will seek congressional support and judicial intervention as necessary.” The EPA also states that exhaust systems are part of the emission control system of motor vehicles.
SEMA represents the specialty auto parts industry, which manufactures and markets after-market automotive products, including so called “performance” enhancing engine and exhaust system products used to modify highway vehicles and convert highway vehicles into racing vehicles.
Many states require factory-equivalent mufflers, prohibit muffler modifications, and ban the use of mufflers that increase exhaust noise levels above factory levels. SEMA has lobbied state legislatures to abandon those tampering prohibitions and replace them with SEMA-designed “model legislation” which allows muffler modifications, establishes a SEMA-specified exhaust noise level, and limits the enforcement of the state’s muffler law to the use of decibel meters for measuring exhaust noise. That has the effect of allowing the use of after- market noise-enhancing exhaust systems and stifling enforcement of laws against noise from exhausts and mufflers.
SEMA is not qualified to pass judgment on environmental regulations or advise the federal government on such matters. SEMA does not advocate for the interests of the general public. Instead, SEMA advocates for the interests of the after-market automotive specialty equipment industry and the modified vehicle enthusiasts it markets its products to.
Noise Free America supports the EPA on this issue and urges the EPA and Congress not to be influenced by SEMA’s opposition to regulations which are necessary to protect the public from air and noise pollution.
Noise Free America also calls upon the EPA to enhance its enforcement efforts against the manufactures and vendors of aftermarket automotive and motorcycle products that are not legal for use on regulated highway vehicles, including so called “performance” and “for use on closed courses only” mufflers. Those products must be taken off the market and off the streets of America.
Larry Deal, a member of Noise Free America: A Coalition to Promote Quiet, asked, “Can you imagine the nerve of SEMA opposing the federal emission control device tampering prohibitions and threatening to oppose its enforcement!”
Deal stated, “SEMA does not act in the best interests of the general public. SEMA lobbyists represent the ‘race cars on public highways’ enthusiasts and the rouge segment of the automotive industry which wants to sell them parts to convert their highway vehicles into race cars.”
Of course, converting highway vehicles into race cars entails tampering with or removing their emission control devices, including their factory-installed mufflers. According to Deal, “Modified highway vehicle enthusiasts usually replace their factory installed mufflers with after-market ‘performance mufflers’ which are not factory-equivalent in their exhaust noise suppression performance. After-market mufflers and muffler cut-outs are classic examples of emission control defeat devices which should never be allowed on highway vehicles–but all too often are.”
Those illicit products should be banned for use on highway vehicles; highway vehicles that have been modified into race vehicles should also be banned. Race cars (or competition vehicles) and highway vehicles are two distinct classes of motor vehicles. Competition vehicles (race cars) belong only on race tracks, not on public highways. Racing parts belong only on race cars, not on highway vehicles.
The federal government should crack down on the rouge segment of the automotive industry which panders those who drive race cars on public highways. The states should crack down on highway vehicles illegally modified into noise-polluting and air-polluting race cars which are roaring about in their jurisdictions. The states should also prohibit and enforce against the illicit modification of emission control devices, the use of “performance” exhaust systems, and mufflers which produce unlawful and unnecessary noise pollution.
Deal observes that “the EPA is just clarifying the distinction between highway and racing vehicles. Just like the motorcycle ‘rights’ lobby, SEMA gets upset when regulations are clarified. SEMA wants regulations as vague as possible—so they can be easily circumvented.
In conclusion, Deal states that “SEMA is raising a major issue over the EPA’s actions, claiming that the EPA wants to regulate race cars and what occurs on race tracks. However, that is not the case. SEMA is trying to raise a false issue and exploit it in the hopes of intimidating the EPA to back off on its clarification of its emission control device tampering prohibitions. SEMA is also attempting to obtain support in Congress, especially from the Congressional Automotive Performance and Motorsports Caucus), to stop the EPA from doing what SEMA opposes. This should never be allowed to happen! “
Noise Free America: A Coalition to Promote Quiet is a national citizens’ organization opposed to excessive noise. Past “winners” of the Noisy Dozen award include the SEMA Action Network, the National Football League, and the United States Congress.