Skip Barber Mazda Driving School - AutocrossEnlarge Photo
Last week, alarm bells were sounding for large portions of the enthusiast, motorsport, and racing community, over new regulatory language that, from the sound of it, could result in a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) crackdown for weekend racers.
Now the EPA’s effectively saying, “Calm down, it was all a big misunderstanding.”
While modifying a normal passenger vehicle and its emissions controls, for racing or any closed-course duty, is technically a violation of the Clean Air Act, the EPA has no intention of making that an enforcement priority.
"The EPA remains primarily concerned with cases where the tampered vehicle is used on public roads, and more specifically with aftermarket manufacturers who sell devices that defeat emission-control systems on vehicles used on public roads," said EPA deputy press secretary Laura Allen, to Automotive News.
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What it is targeting with this new regulation are snowmobiles, off-road motorcycles, and ATVs—for which there’s a rich and open aftermarket thriving on selling “defeat devices” that essentially allow vehicles to pollute more in the name of smoother, stronger operation.
Such defeat devices often interfere with a three-phase plan in which the federal government aims to reduce hydrocarbons for such vehicles.
A 2009 document from the agency clarified the penalties that the agency can levy for tampering or defeat devices—on basis of the number of installations, and on the size of a company’s business, as a producer of these devices.
In light of this, it will be most interesting to see how the size of one alleged passenger-vehicle emissions offender, Volkswagen, and its diesel emissions scandal, might be considered by the EPA.