The SAN Races North: SAN Supports Leaded-Fuel Exemption for Race Vehicles in Canada – February 2010

Canada and the United States have their fair share of differences. For example, Canada’s head of state is the queen of England, the government is run by a prime minister rather than a president and it has a parliament and provinces rather than a congress and states. What separates Canada from the United States, though, isn’t nearly as significant as the similarities that unite them.

One of those similarities is a love of cars, racing and the culture that surrounds them. It is that bond that brought the SAN to Canada in 2007 and is the reason we work with great organizations, such as the National Association of Automobile Clubs of Canada (NAACC) to promote and protect the hobby north of the U.S. border.  

To further that mission, the SAN is supporting a proposal issued by Environment Canada to indefinitely extend an exemption that permits the use of leaded gasoline in competition motor vehicles. The exemption has been renewed several times since it was first established in 1996, but was set to expire in 2010. SAN had previously opposed efforts to terminate the exemption and effectively ban vehicles using leaded fuel. The new proposal recognizes the relationship between the Canadian and U.S. racing industries and adopts a consistent environmental approach to leaded-fuel use. Environment Canada will conduct a five-year review and revisit the exemption issue, if necessary, based on science, technology and fuel replacement developments. Meanwhile, the agency will work with the racing industry to encourage a voluntary reduction or phase out of leaded racing fuel.

Environment Canada’s proposal identifies a number of reasons for providing an indefinite lead-fuel exemption. The reasons include the fact that:

  • In the United States, the Clean Air Act specifically exempts fuels for competition-use vehicles;
     
  • The North American racing industry is fully integrated, with both competitors and spectators crossing country borders to participate in and attend events;
     
  • There are an estimated 165 racing facilities operating in Canada which support thousands of jobs and generate millions of dollars of economic benefit for local businesses and communities;
     
  • Although there are fuel alternatives for some racing vehicles, the drag-racing industry still requires leaded gasoline;
     
  • While the racing industry continues to move towards long-term independence from leaded fuel, the amount used in Canada is miniscule when compared to total leaded fuel use: 2% by competition vehicles versus 98% by piston-engine aircraft.  To put the issue in perspective, 99.8% of gasoline used in Canada is already lead-free.

Back to Canadian Legislation and Regulatory Roundup


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