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Hudson: Regulating race cars would eliminate way of life

By Josh Bergeron 

josh.bergeron@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — Federal environmental regulators recently backed off a proposal to limit emissions from race cars, but U.S. Rep. Richard Hudson is among dozens of lawmakers hoping to ensure the proposal doesn’t surface again.

Last week, the Environmental Protection Agency removed language from a proposed rule for medium- and heavy-duty engines that would make race cars part of greenhouse gas emissions standards. Hudson, R-8, was part of a trio of U.S. House members that sent a letter to the EPA opposing the idea. Hudson, whose district includes the Charlotte Motor Speedway, also helped introduce a bill that would exempt “vehicles manufactured for, modified for, or utilized in organized motorized racing events” from regulation under the Clean Air Act.

In a phone interview, Hudson said regulating emissions from race cars would significantly harm the billion-dollar racing industry. Race cars, he said, don’t significantly affect air quality.

“When you look at the amount of exhaust of competition vehicles compared to all other vehicles, there’s no clear impact that this type of regulation would have,” he said. “It’s just a fraction of the overall vehicle exhaust.”

The regulation would result in people losing jobs and “eliminate a way of life,” Hudson said. The entire motorsports industry is built on modified cars and most people who modify cars are hobbyists rather than professionals, Hudson said.

In the letter to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, U.S. House members estimate vehicles used in racing “represent a small fraction of one percent of the overall fleet” of vehicles. If it had been upheld, Hudson said the proposed rule would’ve reversed a longstanding practice to exempt vehicles used solely for racing from emissions standards.

When the EPA last week chose not to include race cars in emissions regulations, the agency said it supports motorsports and the industry’s contributions to the American economy.

“EPA’s focus is not on vehicles built or used exclusively for racing, but on companies that don’t play by the rules and that make and sell products that disable pollution controls on motor vehicles used on public roads,” the agency said in a statement posted online. “These unlawful defeat devices pump dangerous and illegal pollution into the air we breathe.”

The most high-profile example of what the EPA’s statement refers to is Volkswagen, which acknowledged in September that it intentionally defeated emissions tests and put dirty vehicles on the road. The cheating allowed cars to pass laboratory emissions tests while spewing harmful nitrogen oxide at up to 40 times the level allowed when operating on real roads.

Hudson praised the EPA decision shortly after it was announced.

“After persistent and vocal opposition from myself, my colleagues and race car enthusiasts, I’m pleased to see that the EPA reconsidered,” Hudson said in a statement. “Like I promised when I found out about this ridiculous government overreach, we didn’t just sound the alarm on this – we stopped it. This is a huge win for common sense, North Carolina jobs and the future of racing.”

Hudson also helped introduce a bill called the Recognizing the Protection of Motorsports Act of 2016. A relatively short bill, it’s only purpose is to permanently exclude race cars from regulation under the Clean Air Act. The bill, introduced in March, hasn’t yet been scheduled for consideration, but Hudson’s Communications Director Tatum Gibson said the congressman plans to continue advocating for the measure because the EPA didn’t retract its belief that it can regulate vehicles under the Clean Air Act.

Since it’s introduction in March, the bill has gained a total of 52 sponsors or co-sponsors — 48 Republicans and four Democrats. Original sponsors and Co-sponsors of the bill include Reps. Hudson; Patrick McHenry, R-10; Lee Zeldin, a Republican from New York; Bill Posey, a Republican from Florida; and Alexander Mooney, a Republican from West Virginia.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

Contact reporter Josh Bergeron at 704-797-4246.

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