Texas Proposes Scrappage Program
The Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission (TNRCC), which has the legal responsibility for developing a State Implementation Plan (SIP) to reduce emissions in Texas is again proposing a regulation to implement a vehicle scrappage program. Spurred by a resolution adopted by the North Texas Clean Air Steering Committee, the regulation, if finalized, would affect vehicle owners in 24 Texas counties.
Previously, the state had a vehicle scrappage rule that relied on the I/M 240 emissions test for assessment of emission reductions from scrapped vehicles. The original rule was repealed in 1998. This new proposed regulation will use computer-modeled averages to calculate emission reductions per vehicle, or vehicles can be tested using an acceleration simulation mode (ASM-2) analyzer. In addition, the program will generate tradable credits for claimed emissions reduction. In other words, heavy industry will be able to buy the pollution credits gained by scrapping cars in order to avoid cleaning up their own smokestacks.
"This proposal comes on the heels of a scrappage bill considered by the Texas legislature last session that was beaten back by a coalition of vehicle enthusiasts, including the Texas Vehicle Club Council," said SEMA Director of State Relations Steve McDonald. "Apparently, regulators are now trying to do what the legislators failed to accomplish. The TNRCC is relying on the same stale and unproven logic that has doomed many scrappage programs all over the country."
The TNRCC held a series of public hearings on this proposal throughout the state at the end of January. At press time, the SEMA Action Network was busy reminding Texas vehicle hobbyists of the necessity of making their voices heard at each of these meetings.
Texas Counties Potentially Affected by Scrappage: Brazoria, Chambers, Collin, Dallas, Denton, El Paso, Ellis, Fort Bend, Galveston, Hardin, Harris, Henderson, Hood, Hunt, Jefferson, Johnson, Kaufman, Liberty, Montgomery, Orange, Parker, Rockwall, Tarrant and Waller.
Clinton Unveils Tough New Emissions Standards for SUVs/Trucks
President Clinton announced that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will issue final regulations to force the car companies to produce SUVs and light trucks (including minivans and vans) to meet the same stringent emissions standards as passenger cars. According to the administration and the carmakers, the new emissions standards will raise the cost of trucks and SUVs by $200 to $350. In addition, diesel-powered vehicles will eventually have to meet gasoline-engine emissions standards. The regulations will also require oil companies to produce cleaner gasolines to significantly reduce the level of sulphur. The administration claims that this will boost prices by 2 cents per gallon, while the oil companies believe it could be up to 5 cents. Trucks and SUVs will have to meet the same emissions standards as cars by 2009. The cleaner gasoline rules will begin being phased in by 2004.
Rock N Rod Nites: More Than Just a Car Show
Every year, the Rock N Rod Nites show season opens and closes with an ensemble of girls dressed like the cast members of Grease, singing and dancing to the songs the 1950s. This is just one of the many events that makes the Watsonville, California, series of car shows unique. Originally intended to be an American Graffiti-style car show, Rock N Rod Nites has grown up to be much more. It all began in 1995 when Dennis Espindola and his brother-in-law, Delton Taylor, began talking about the need for a local car show. Although previous car shows in Watsonville had been quite popular, several years had passed without any. So Delton, who Dennis described as "an avid rodder," began looking into it, and "before long he had made arrangements with the Watsonville Square Shopping Center and the Watsonville Square Merchants Association to actually put on our first shows."
Ever since, rodders have gathered at the Watsonville Square Shopping Center on the second Thursday of each month from May to September to compete in the show. The shows are so popular, that beginning in 1998 the second Thursday of October was designated an Encore Nite at which, weather permitting, everyone gathers just for the fun.
The size of the shows has quadrupled over the years. In 1995, an average of 40 to 50 hot rods competed each month. In 1996, the average rose to 50 to 60. In 1997 and 1998, it was 100 and 125 respectively. Then, Dennis said, "in 1999, something happened; I guess we were discovered. Maybe the web site really began doing its job, or the reputation for being one of the best Graffiti Nite shows here in the area took effect. At the opening Nite in May, we broke the 200-rod barrier."
While Dennis knows how many competitors attend each show, it is impossible for him to estimate how many spectators visit because, he said, "from day one we vowed never to charge for spectators, and to never charge a participant. We didn't start the show as a money-making venture."
But Rock N Rod Nites is not just a free, family-oriented good time, it also raises money for a good cause. Instead of charging the participants and spectators, Dennis, Delton and Pam Taylor (Delton's wife and Dennis' sister), recruit show sponsors. They then give the money paid by the sponsors and raised by the raffle and T-shirt sales at the shows, to the Watsonville Police Department Drug Awareness Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.) Program. During the past 4 years Rock N Rod Nites has raised more than $20,000 for D.A.R.E.
"It's a winning combination when the kids win with D.A.R.E., the rodders win with a show, and the community wins because it's a safe family atmosphere that everyone can enjoy," Dennis said. In 1999, 14 area businesses paid $500 each to be a Rock N Rod Nites sponsor. In return for their contributions to D.A.R.E., the companies' names were mentioned in the advertisements for the shows, and their logos were placed on the show T-shirts and banner.
One reason Rock N Rod Nites has been able to give so much money to D.A.R.E. is its low overhead costs. The shows are staffed entirely by volunteers, and the Watsonville Square Shopping Center and the Watsonville Square Merchants Association have always paid for the advertisements. Unfortunately, ownership of the Watsonville Square Shopping Center recently changed, and the new owners are not willing to pay for the ads. Dennis is afraid that this will result in fewer advertisements, or in money being diverted away from D.A.R.E. to pay for the ads. He is hoping someone else will step in and help.
But one way that they get plenty of free advertising is online. Dennis works part-time for an Internet service provider, and his boss bought the domain name rocknrod.com for Rock N Rod Nites. The company also hosts the Rock N Rod Nites' web site for free. As a result, Dennis is able to post information about the shows, advertisements for the sponsors and lists of other car shows around the country. He also dedicates sections of the web site to SEMA and D.A.R.E., and includes links to both organizations' homepages.
Dennis, Delton and Pam like to use the winter months to plan ahead for the next show season. This year they are working on incorporating Rock N Rod Nites as a nonprofit organization. They will also continue on their quest for new sponsors, and Dennis is hoping to create pages on the web site for each of the show's sponsors. When all that is done, on the second Thursday in May Dennis, Delton and Pam will be back at the Watsonville Square Shopping Center welcoming rodders to the "Millennium Run of Rock N Rod Nites."
Hawkeye Area Classic Chevy Club's Unique Service Project
By Dan Janda, Hawkeye Area Classic Chevy Club
My wife Sheila and I were fortunate to attend the February 1998 Classic Chevy International Winter Convention. While there we noticed a classic Chevy painted to look like a fire chief's car. Then the wheels started turning. The Hawkeye Area Classic Chevy Club has been meeting in the Cedar Rapids Central Fire Station for a number of years now and (after seeing that old Chevy at the convention) we thought it would be a great service project to find an appropriate car ourselves, restore it and present it to the Fire Department.
Our task was easy: find some money, find a car, restore it and present it to the Fire Department. We didn't waste much time. One of the club members remembered seeing a classic 1955 Chevy four-door sedan at a garage sale earlier in the year. We went to where he had seen the car and asked the owner if he would donate the car for the club's service project. Thankfully, he said yes. Wow, 2 days into our project and we already had a car!
Next, our service project committee started asking local businesses for help on the car. This is how we received new tires, brakes, suspension, interior, etc. Almost everything was donated for the restoration. An old firefighter even donated a completely restored "cherry top" emergency light. We also began working with Dave Koch, assistant to the Cedar Rapids Fire Chief for Community Outreach and decided that we wanted to coordinate the presentation of the restored fire chief's car with Classic Chevy International's 25th Anniversary Tour, which graciously scheduled a stop in Cedar Rapids to help celebrate our presentation.
We had less than 1 year to complete a total restoration, but we did it! Everything went like clockwork, most of the time. (It's hard to be pushy when all the work is donated!) All of our club members remained enthusiastic and helped with the reassembly and the car turned out to be almost show quality.
The unveiling and presentation of the fire chief's car took place June 21, 1999. Accepting the car were the Mayor of Cedar Rapids, Lee Clancey and Cedar Rapids Fire Chief Steve Havlik. Other notable attendees included the Classic Chevy Club International Tour crew, about 150 members of local car clubs, and all the local sponsors that made this project possible. We also presented the mayor and chief with Hawkeye Area Classic Chevy Club T-shirts and, quite to our surprise, they in turn presented us all with "honorary firefighter" badges.
Already the fire chief's car has been on display at the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines, has been to many area schools to promote Fire Safety Awareness programs and numerous car shows and parades. The car looks and drives like new-1955 new. And, most importantly, the Hawkeye Area Classic Chevy Association was able to give something back to the community we all live in.
Maryland Seeks to Redefine Hobby Vehicles
SEMA is working with the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) to craft legislation revising the state's street rod definition to conform to traditional definitions and create a "custom vehicle" classification. Both the street rod and custom classifications would include vehicles with bodies constructed of nonoriginal materials. The MVA also asked SEMA to gauge the interest of the Maryland hobbyist community in supporting this bill.
A separate bill, recently introduced in the MD legislature (S.B. 35) amends the current Maryland street rod definition to include vehicles made after 1975 to resemble pre-1975 vehicles.
SEMA Director of State Relations Steve McDonald said, "Currently, Maryland titles substantially modified vehicles that are 25 or more model years old as street rods. The draft bill we discussed with the Maryland MVA would amend the definition to define street rods as a 1948 model year or older vehicle and allow vehicles at least 25 years old, but of a model year after 1948, to be titled as "custom" vehicles. While S.B. 35 does not include the traditional street rod definition or a custom classification, we are hopeful that with the help of the Maryland enthusiast community, we will be able to work with the sponsoring legislator to modify the bill or pursue the SEMA/MVA draft bill.
Idaho Suing the Forest Service Over Trail Access
Idaho Governor Dirk Kempthorne announced on December 30, 1999 that the state of Idaho was suing the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) for not providing the state enough time to comment on the Forest Service's regulatory proposal to permanently ban road development in "roadless" areas. USFS broadly defines roadless areas as those not containing any roads "intended for long-term highway use." Last October the USFS introduced a notice of intent to prepare an environmental impact statement that would effectively close nearly 40 million acres of national forest land to multiple-use recreationalists. Curiously, the USFS also chose to limit the comment period for this proposal to a mere 60 days. According to Idaho Attorney General Al Lance, the state of Idaho was given "no advance notice of the October announcement and was provided no meaningful opportunity to respond."
Attorney General Lance also noted that the goal of the lawsuit was simple. "The people of Idaho need a reasonable period of time to respond, cull through and understand the USFS proposal." He added, "This announcement was an abrupt departure from the Forest Service's previous efforts to manage land in a collaborative manner with affected state and local governments."
This matter is of particular concern to the American four-wheel-drive community because these "roadless" areas include logging roads that many 4x4 clubs enjoy using for trail rides nationwide. Should the USFS succeed in banning road development in "roadless" areas, these recreational logging trails will inevitably deteriorate leaving them impassible and unusable by the organized four-wheel-drive community.
NEWLY INTRODUCED LEGISLATION
Note: The following state bills are not laws. They have been recently introduced and are currently being considered for adoption by the respective state legislatures
ARIZONA: H.B. 2104 would revise provisions of the state's vehicle repair and retrofit program.
CALIFORNIA: A.B. 1175 would repeal an increase in the smog abatement fee from $4 to $6 for vehicles 4 or less model years old. The increase was triggered by a court ruling that determined the $300 Smog Impact Fee levied on vehicles previously registered outside California was unconstitutional.
CALIFORNIA: S.B. 1375 would provide for reimbursement of taxes or fees deemed unconstitutional, including the Smog Impact Fee on vehicles previously registered outside California.
INDIANA: S.B. 136 would require the use of headlamps when weather conditions require operation of windshield wipers.
MISSOURI: H.B. 1228 would prohibit window tinting that has light transmittance of 35 percent or less and luminous reflectance of 35 percent or more.
MISSOURI: H.B. 1347 would require the use of headlamps when weather conditions require operation of windshield wipers.
NEBRASKA: L.B. 1027 would prohibit nitrous oxide for highway use.
NEBRASKA: L.B. 997 would require the use of headlights and taillights when windshield wipers are being operated.
SOUTH CAROLINA: H.B. 4375 would mandate that sun-screening devices installed at certain locations on vehicles must not exceed 20 percent light transmittance; requirement does not apply to windows behind driver on pickup trucks, etc.
PENNSYLVANIA: S.B. 1240/H.B 2004 would make it illegal to take parts from an abandoned vehicle.
NEW HAMPSHIRE: H.B. 1290 would provide that inspection violations and equipment violations are the sole responsibility of the owner of the vehicle rather than the driver of the vehicle.
NEW JERSEY: S.B. 2298 would authorize the Department of Motor Vehicles to act to eliminate inspection delays (e.g., exempt vehicles up to 5 years old, suspend safety inspections for certain models years, eliminate need for I/M 240 emissions testing, use private inspection facilities).
VERMONT: S.B. 281 would mandate that on-board diagnostic systems on late-model vehicles be inspected every 2 years rather than every year.
TITLING, PLATES AND REGISTRATION
MISSOURI: H.B. 1078/H.B. 1193 would allow registration of license plates over 25 years old as historic plates for use on vehicles provided the plate is consistent with the year of manufacture.
MARYLAND: S.B. 35 would expand the street rod definition to include vehicles made after 1975 (with bodies constructed of nonoriginal materials) that are made to resemble pre-1975 vehicles.
NEW HAMPSHIRE: H.B. 1266 would create a new classification for custom vehicles manufactured after 1949; requires same inspection as street rods; establishes special plates.
NEW HAMPSHIRE: H.C.R. 30 urges the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to adopt the Tier 2/Gasoline Sulphur rule as proposed.
WASHINGTON: S.B. 2309/H.B. 2309 would exempt motor vehicles from property taxes.