GUEST EDITORIAL -- Are We Our Own Worst Enemy?
By Del Albright, BlueRibbon Ambassador
The other night a rodder friend of mine let me know the paint was dry on his '52 by making plenty of noise as he pulled into my driveway. Rubber marks were visible the next day. Unfortunately, my neighbor was also plainly visible. Apparently, my neighbor did not appreciate hearing someone burn rubber after lights out.
I had a similar experience the last time I was out in my Jeep doing some four-wheeling.Some knuckleheads were on the same trail leaving trash and burning rubber on the surrounding rocks. Not only did this leave a bad impression of four-wheelers, but it was also illegal.
Not too long ago I was enjoying a peaceful evening in my fishing boat in a nearby lake when some yo-yos on a jet ski whipped by me at 60 mph and nearly tipped me over (causing me, by the way, to lose a nice fish). It was completely inconsiderate of them (and probably illegal, too).
Why are there knuckleheads in every sport? Why do I run into them so often?
More importantly, does my congressman know about these knuckleheads? Yes, he knows. The other day I had a chance to corner him about lift laws, access to trails and aftermarket vehicle equipment. He was very sympathetic and interested, but he wanted to know who was doing something about the yo-yos, goof balls and other folks who give us all a bad name. Not only do they jeopardize our sport/hobby, but also this bad image makes it nearly impossible to get very far with looser vehicle equipment laws.
Off-highway vehicles (OHV) are attacked from all sides, whether its land use, vehicle equipment or generalized social skepticism. Import enthusiasts and rodders are painted in the same negative light. There are folks out there who don't like our pursuit of happiness and it just makes it worse when our own ranks behave badly.
Hot rodders would obviously have more success with looser vehicle equipment laws if they would quit laying 50 feet of rubber across residential intersections at 3 a.m. OHV enthusiasts know the same is true for them on the trail.
I told my congressman that WE were doing something. Yes, us, the users. In this case, I told him about the four-wheelers who are policing their own trail-the famed Rubicon Trail of California. Using the Internet and e-mail, hundreds of volunteers have formed a Volunteer Trail Patrol to look for and report the idiots who ruin it for us all. We're going to document the violators and report it to law enforcement authorities. We also plan to plaster their names and photos all over the Internet.
But the real point is that enthusiasts, no matter the hobby, must police their own ranks and set the example for others to follow. We must pick up our own trash, obey the law, drive responsibly and teach our kids to live responsibly. Law enforcement is not enough to curtail the knuckleheads. We should not be our own worst enemy. We must do our part.
Del Albright is State Environmental Affairs Coordinator for the California 4 Wheel Drive Association
New California 'Greenhouse Gas' Bill Goes to Governor
In an unusual weekend session, the California Legislature sneakily passed an alternative bill to regulate "greenhouse" gases, including carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, from motor vehicles. This bill, A.B. 1493, replaces A.B. 1058 (reported on in the July 2002 issue of "Driving Force") and now moves to Gov. Gray Davis for his signature or veto. While the new bill prohibits regulators from reducing speed limits, restricting vehicle size or imposing new taxes or fees, it is little more than a back-door effort by environmentalists to set fuel-economy standards.
"Because CO2 is given off whenever gasoline is burned, the only way to cut emissions is to make vehicles that burn less gasoline or vehicles driven by electricity or other means," said SEMA Director of Government Affairs Steve McDonald. "In fact, this measure amounts to an illegal state effort to regulate fuel economy, and contradicts Federal government policy which opposes dramatic increases to CAFE standards. Counter to some legislators' belief, the new bill represents bad public policy."
According to McDonald, the bill will result in the downsizing of cars and light trucks, limiting vehicle choice, increasing costs and possibly even limiting the sale and use of related specialty automotive parts that help increase vehicle horsepower and performance. Popular products like engine and drivetrain upgrades and custom exhaust equipment could effectively be outlawed simply because they may increase GHG emissions.
"Worse still," noted SEMA Director of Public Affairs Brian Caudill, "this bill could entice other states to follow California's misguided effort in setting unreasonable emissions rules on vehicles."
SEMA has joined a coalition led by the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers and the American Highway Users Alliance in urging Gov. Davis to veto the bill. SEMA Action Network members, particularly those who favor light trucks, SUVs and performance modified vehicles, are encouraged to contact the governor in opposition to this bill.
[EDITOR'S NOTE: Shortly after the publishing date of the August Driving Force, A.B. 1493 was signed into law. SEMA is disappointed that Gov. Davis chose to sign this anti-hobby legislation and will pursue strategies to make sure that this new law will not effect California's vehicle enthusiast community.]
Georgia Altered Suspension Bill Dies
A bill that threatened to ban any vehicle whose suspension was altered more than two inches above or below the factory recommendation died in the Georgia Legislature. This law currently applies only to private passenger vehicles-not trucks. The bill also required lenses on taillights to meet federal standards and not be "covered or consist of anything other than reflective material installed as original factory equipment . . ." In conversations with Georgia legislators, SEMA noted a significant lack of support for pursuing this measure.
Steve McDonald, SEMA director of government affairs, commented, "Any off-highway vehicle (OHV) hobbyist realizes that reasonable alterations are necessary and useful to provide improved clearance as well as to accommodate heavy loads, larger wheels and improved suspension, particularly for trail-riding activities. Reasonable vehicle lift also allows improved water clearance of the interior compartment when launching watercraft from trailers and in fording water while off-road. We are pleased that Georgia legislators ultimately recognized the severity of the proposal and the burdens it would have placed on raised-vehicle owners without actually improving safety."
SEMA would like to specifically thank the Southern Four Wheel Drive Association and the Georgia Bounty Runners Four Wheel Drive Club for their efforts in defeating this legislation. SEMA shares with them the hope that the Georgia legislature's flirtation with limiting the OHV hobby will cease as this bill meets its rightful end.
SEMA Urges Support for Revisions to California Scrappage Program
The California Air Resources Board (CARB) is proposing to amend its vehicle scrappage program to extend the waiting period before which these vehicles may be destroyed. The proposal would lengthen the current seven-day waiting period to 10 days and if any party expressed an interest in a vehicle, the period would be extended another seven days to allow the party to inspect and possibly purchase the vehicle. In addition, CARB is proposing to delete the provision requiring dismantlers to first receive the permission of the previous vehicle owner before making the vehicle and/or its parts available for resale.
As reported previously, CARB has set up a system to notify the public of the availability of scrapped vehicles and parts before they are destroyed. Through this program, consumers interested in scrapping their vehicles will contact an authorized dismantler to set up an appointment to bring the vehicle in for inspection. A list of the scheduled appointments will be compiled by the dismantler on a daily basis. SEMA successfully arranged for the list to be e-mailed to members of the public who sign up to receive it.
"SEMA appreciates CARB's efforts to revise the scrappage regulations to more closely meet the intent of the legislature by accommodating the interests of the public," said SEMA Technical Consultant Frank Bohanan. "We look forward to continuing our efforts to maximize the availability of scrappage program vehicles and their parts. The enthusiastic support of the hobbyist community to the proposed program revisions are ample justification for these efforts.
Those who have not yet signed up for e-mail notification should refer to www.arb.ca.gov/msprog/avrp/emailnotification.htm.
Legislative 'Quick' Hits
Arizona Emissions Exemption: The Arizona Automobile Hobbyist Council (AAHC) spearheaded an effort to create an emissions test exemption for vehicles at least 15 years old that are insured as collectibles. The bill was amended to require state regulators to contact the U.S. EPA to seek approval for the exemption. The legislature also agreed to exempt drivers of historic trucks from the requirement of having a commercial driver's license, if the vehicle has been issued a historic license plate. Both measures were signed into law.
California Zero-Emissions Vehicle Mandate: A federal judge issued a two-year injunction on California's zero-emissions-vehicle (ZEV) program. The injunction will delay enforcement of the program pending the outcome of a lawsuit brought by some of the automakers. The suit argues that California is attempting to regulate automotive fuel economy, an authority reserved for the federal government.
California Specially Constructed Vehicles: A bill to eliminate the requirement that the registration provided to specially constructed vehicles in California must be an initial registration for that vehicle passed in the California Assembly. The measure already has passed in the full Senate. The bill amends a California law enacted last year to provide a more accurate emissions-system certification and model year designation for specially constructed vehicles, including kit cars.
Massachusetts Specialty Exhaust Systems: Legislation to prohibit the sale or installation of "an exhaust system which has been modified in a manner which will amplify or increase the noise emitted by the exhaust" has been approved by the Massachusetts Legislature's Joint Committee on Public Safety. This is the same bill that was sent out for a study last year after SEMA voiced objections to the measure. The bill will next be considered by the House Ways and Means Committee and could soon be voted on by the full House of Representatives. SEMA would like to highlight the efforts of Massachusetts SEMA Action Network clubs including Bearing Burners, Massachusetts Cruisers Auto Club and Ty-Rods for their efforts in opposing this legislation.
New Hampshire Antique Cars: Authored by SEMA Action Network member Representative Lawrence Artz (R-Nashua), a bill to exempt from "junkyard" control regulations those antique vehicles owned and maintained by automotive collectors was passed by the New Hampshire Legislature and signed into law. Antique motor vehicles, defined as those more than 25 years old, are only required to be stored and repaired by the owner out of public view by means of inside storage, fencing, trees or shrubbery. The measure applies only to noncommercial antique vehicle restoration activities and limits the total number of vehicles stored outside to five.
Hey, That's My Car!
Driving Force Wants More of Your Pictures
Thanks to all who have sent in or e-mailed us photos, efforts to replenish our photo library and continue publishing an informative-as well as visually appealing newsletter-are going well...But we need more!
We need MORE restoration process pictures, MORE hot rod pictures, MORE junkyard pictures, MORE street rod pictures, MORE antique/classic pictures, MORE sport compact pictures and MORE lifted 4x4 pictures. Continue sending us photos of your trail rides, rod runs, car shows, charity events and drag races. Also, if it is ok with club members, give us permission to reproduce the images on your Web sites.
Submit pictures to SEMA, 1575 S. Valley Vista Dr., Diamond Bar, CA 91765. You may also send high-resolution digital pictures by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. While we regret that we cannot return any pictures to you, the next time we do a story focusing on your segment of the automobile hobby, we may use yourride as the example.
We Get Letters
I hope you guys have not gone soft on scrappage.
I have always appreciated SEMA's hard line in opposing scrappage. This is why I am concerned about the tone of your recent scrappage article ["CARB Program Offers Last-Chance Opportunity For Cars On Scrappage 'Death Row'" - June 2002, Driving Force]. In the article you seem to be extolling the fact that the [California Air Resources Board] is finally ALLOWING auto restorers to recycle parts?! Forgive my sarcasm,
but ... wow, how nice of them! Aren't they supposed to be doing that under California law anyway? Seems to me if this is a "victory" to be extolled, it's a damn minor one.
I understand that hobbyists specifically, and SEMA generally, must take their successes where they can. I just hope that this article does not signal a SEMA capitulation on scrappage, even if this program is a step in the right direction. I hope we can still count on your continued philosophical opposition to scrappage both as a threat to the hobby and a public policy fraud.
-- Curtis Ball
[As our effort (and success) in defeating federal scrappage legislation indicates, we will never "capitulate" on scrappage philosophically or programmatically. In fact, given half the chance we would still eliminate it from California's list of public policy tools. This said, we are not about to downplay the significance of any program out there that saves valuable parts from the crusher. -Ed. ]