Car Hobby Concerns on Capitol Hill
Legislative issues impacting the car hobby community at the federal level continue to develop. Congressional lawmakers and regulators are working on efforts concerning auto enthusiasts in a number of areas. The SEMA Action Network (SAN) is pursuing the following initiatives:
Bonneville Salt Flats: A SAN-supported resolution urging the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to restore the Bonneville Salt Flats was approved by the Utah House and Senate and signed by Governor Gary Herbert. The resolution calls attention to the deterioration of the Bonneville Salt Flats and urges the BLM to work with the Save the Salt Coalition and other concerned stakeholders to formulate a plan to restore the Bonneville Salt Flats International Speedway. The resolution also urges the U.S. Congress to take action to restore safe racing conditions. The SAN is part of the Save the Salt Coalition, a group of organizations and companies with a vested interest in Bonneville. The Coalition has drafted a comprehensive plan for restoring Bonneville, including its historic 13½-mile speedway. It is now working with the BLM, federal and state lawmakers and the adjoining potash mine owner to implement the plan.
E15/Ethanol: Under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), ethanol is required to be blended into gasoline in volumes that increase every year. In recent years, the EPA turned to E15 (gas that contains 15% ethanol) to meet the targets. Ethanol, especially in higher concentrations such as E15, can cause metal corrosion and dissolve certain plastics and rubbers in automobiles produced before 2001 that were not constructed with ethanol-resistant materials. The SAN is working to enact legislation to repeal the EPA regulation authorizing E15 sales, cap the amount of ethanol blended into gasoline at 10% and eliminate a mandate that 15 billion gallons of corn-based ethanol be blended into the U.S. fuel supply every year. The SAN has joined with more than 50 other organizations from the auto, boat, food and energy industries to support passage of the legislation. Several bills have been introduced in the U.S. Congress although there has been little action to date.
Utah Public Lands Initiative: The SAN is working with off-road groups, local communities, environmentalists, energy interests and a variety of other groups on the Utah Public Lands Initiative, which covers the state’s eight eastern counties. These counties have put forward individual plans to finalize federal land designations, which include permanent protections for motorized recreation. U.S. Rep. Rob Bishop (R-UT), Chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, and Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) consolidated their plans into draft legislation they circulated in February, although no formal bill has been introduced to date. The lawmakers are seeking to address a proposal to set aside land for a Bears Ears National Monument. In total, more than 20 million acres of land will be impacted by the initiative.
National Monuments: President Obama designated three new national monuments located in California’s Mojave Desert in February. The Mojave Trails, Sand to Snow and Castle Mountains National Monuments total 1.8 million acres and are located between Palm Springs and the Nevada state border. The SAN opposes this action since national monuments automatically prohibit new roads or trails for motorized vehicles and require a new land management plan be drafted that could lead to more road closures. The SAN supports a collaborative approach to land-use decisions, including input from local citizens, elected leaders and other stakeholders on national monument designations. Accordingly, the SAN supports bills pending in the U.S. Congress that would curtail the President’s power to unilaterally designate national monuments by requiring their approval by Congress and the impacted state legislature(s).
National OHV Area Designations: The SAN is supporting legislation that would permanently designate six existing OHV areas comprising 300,000 acres in San Bernardino County as national OHV areas: Johnson Valley, Spangler Hills, El Mirage, Rasor, Dumont Dunes and Stoddard Valley. The bill was introduced by Rep. Paul Cook (R-CA), and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) has introduced a similar bill that also protects OHV areas, although in lesser amounts. The bills are being actively discussed but no legislative action has been scheduled.
Clear Creek Recreation Area: A SAN-supported bill to reopen the 75,000-acre Clear Creek National Recreation Area (NRA) in San Benito and Fresno Counties in California was passed by the U.S. House Natural Resources Committee in March. The bill is pending consideration in the full House of Representatives. The bill would provide OHV access to more than 240 miles of public trails closed in 2008 due to concerns surrounding exposure to asbestos. The California Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Commission ordered an independent risk-assessment study and concluded that the land could be managed without exposing the public to unacceptable risks.
The future of our prized cars and trucks is being threatened! Add your voice to our growing U.S. and Canadian forces united to advance our automotive freedoms. SAN members defend the hobby by responding to timely e-mail updates on vehicle-related legislation and regulations. No fees. No SPAM. No obligations. Great strength comes with great numbers. Can we count on you to help preserve the classics of today and tomorrow?
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