Congress

Bill to keep EPA out of auto racing picks up bipartisan Senate support

FILE – Professional NASCAR drivers use race cars that already are exempt from the Clean Air Act but North Carolina Republicans in Congress want a new law to ensure federal environmental regulations don’t hurt amateur driverd. This picture shows a NASCAR official in front of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Matt Kenseth's car as crew members hurry to make adjustments to it during the Sprint All-Star race on May 21, 2016, at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
FILE – Professional NASCAR drivers use race cars that already are exempt from the Clean Air Act but North Carolina Republicans in Congress want a new law to ensure federal environmental regulations don’t hurt amateur driverd. This picture shows a NASCAR official in front of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Matt Kenseth's car as crew members hurry to make adjustments to it during the Sprint All-Star race on May 21, 2016, at Charlotte Motor Speedway. jsiner@charlotteobserver.com

U.S. Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., reintroduced legislation on Tuesday to permanently block the Environmental Protection Agency from enforcing anti-pollution regulations that he says would devastate amateur and hobbyist car racing.

Burr initially introduced the Senate companion bill – dubbed the “RPM Act” – last year, after several U.S. House members from North Carolina fought the EPA on the issue.

U.S. Reps. Patrick McHenry and Richard Hudson, both Republicans from North Carolina, introduced legislation in 2016 that would amend the federal Clean Air Act to prohibit EPA regulations on after-market modified vehicle engines used exclusively in racing. Neither the Senate nor House bill got a vote in the 114th Congress and McHenry has since reintroduced the legislation.

Last April, the EPA dropped the contentious rule proposal, which had been included in a wide-ranging packet of proposed regulations and rules related to fuel efficiency standards. Then, federal officials said they were more interested in regulating car part manufacturers with the rule, not individual car owners who race on amateur tracks around the country.

But lawmakers want Congress to act on the issue to further protect the sport from environmental regulations.

Burr’s Senate bill has 14 co-sponsors including North Carolina’s Sen. Thom Tillis, a Republican, and three Democrats.

In a statement Tuesday, Burr said: “For decades, Congress has made it clear that the EPA does not have the authority to regulate racing vehicles. The Obama EPA attempted to tell the American people what they can do with their own cars, even though there is a deep tradition of hobbyists who have chosen to upgrade their vehicles when they are removed from public roads.”

Anna Douglas: 202-383-6012, @ADouglasNews

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