Nitrous Oxide Equipment Remains Legal in Georgia ...
SEMA succeeded in negotiating a compromise to Georgia legislation that sought to fully prohibit public road use of all passenger cars or pickup trucks equipped to supply the engine with nitrous oxide. The SEMA amendment modified the bill to protect manufacturers and hobbyists from a blanket ban.
As amended, the mere presence of nitrous systems on passenger cars does not constitute a violation. Nitrous oxide systems must simply be disconnected when a vehicle is driven on a public road. SEMA was able to modify the bill on behalf of the many Georgia hobbyists who use nitrous oxide safely and legally at local drag strips.
SEMA would like to especially thank Georgia State Rep. Alan Powell. "Representative Powell was instrumental in facilitating a relationship between the bill's proponents and SEMA," said SEMA Director of Government Relations Steve McDonald. "The resulting compromise was satisfying to all parties and is a tribute to how the political process can work to produce fair and reasonable legislation."
The Georgia bill was approved by the House and Senate and now awaits the governor's signature.
... and in Nebraska
A bill that originally threatened to prohibit the use of "fuel power booster delivery systems," including superchargers and turbochargers, on motor vehicles operated in Nebraska was passed by the state legislature and signed into law. Early in the process, SEMA was successful in amending the bill to soften its effect. As amended, the law only prohibits the street use of nitrous oxide. The mere presence of nitrous systems in vehicles does not constitute a violation.
SEMA would like to thank all Nebraska car clubs and enthusiasts who helped keep nitrous oxide legal. In particular, we would like to highlight the efforts of the Nebraska Rod and Custom Association, who brought this legislation to our attention more than two years ago.
California Exhaust Noise Testing Program Legislation Marches On
Pro-hobbyist legislation (S.B. 1420) to create a statewide exhaust system noise-testing program passed the California Senate by a vote of 31-3. The SEMA-sponsored bill will give testing authority to Smog Check referee stations that choose to participate. These stations will be required to issue compliance certificates if testing demonstrates that individual exhaust systems do not surpass the 95-decibels limit as outlined in California law.
Through the program, ticketed hobbyists would still have to appear in court with the certificate of compliance, but courts will be required to dismiss the citations for proven compliant exhaust systems. These state-sanctioned tests would compliment SEMA-sponsored legislation enacted last year that compels law enforcement officials to tie exhaust-systemnoise citations to a 95-decibel limit. The testing program would be paid for by fees charged to motorists for the certificates of compliance.
This bill would provide hobbyists who drive vehicles legally equipped with modified exhaust systems with the ability to prove that their exhaust system complies with the law. Overwhelming evidence shows that most of these citations are being written in absence of any violation. Further, this bill would remedy the enforcement policy currently used by police officers in which exhaust noise citations are prosecuted solely based on the officer's subjective judgment.
SEMA Action Network Director Brian Caudill noted, "The sport-compact and lowrider scene is heavily into custom exhaust systems for their increased performance capabilities and unique look. However, over the past few years this admittedly younger community has found itself on the wrong end of a great number of unfair, excessive exhaust noise tickets. S.B. 1420 aims to provide hobbyists who drive vehicles with legal exhaust systems with the ability to once and for all prove that they comply with California law."
California Greenhouse Gas Bill Stalls
California legislation (A.B. 1058) that would allow state regulators to limit "greenhouse gases," (GHGs) including carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from cars, SUVs and light trucks, passed the Senate but lost support in the California Assembly and may no longer have the 41 votes needed for final passage. This previously popular bill has bogged down amidst an onslaught of grassroots lobbying from automakers, auto enthusiasts and consumer vehicle-choice advocates.
Specifically, A.B. 1058 would direct the California Air Resources Board (CARB) to regulate GHG emissions from vehicles to achieve the maximum feasible and cost-effective reduction. If passed into law, A.B. 1058 could end up requiring automakers to construct "California-only" vehicles. It may also kill the California SUV, van and pickup truck markets (which account for nearly half of all new-vehicle sales in the state) since they release comparatively more greenhouse gasses into the air. At a minimum, the new standard would make these vehicles much more expensive to purchase and maintain.
Passage of A.B. 1058 could also result in increased gasoline taxes, new "vehicle use" taxes and possibly even in-use testing standards for older vehicles. Finally, in a more direct attack on the specialty aftermarket and vehicle enthusiasts, the standard could indirectly affect the sale and use of automotive products that increase power.
If signed into law, new rules to limit GHGs would be adopted and implemented to take effect in the 2008 model year.
Off-Highway Vehicle Enthusiasts Face Federal Legislative Threats
Two separate federal efforts are renewing interest in the contentious debate over recreational off-highway vehicle (OHV) access to public land. First and foremost, a bill sponsored by Rep. Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY) and Rep. Jay Inslee (D-WA) has been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives to enact as law the Clinton Administration's "roadless rule." This legislation would effectively eliminate OHV recreation from 58.5 million acres of U.S. Forest Service (USFS) land.
A federal judge struck down the Clinton-era USFS regulation last year and now the matter is officially on hold while a U.S. Circuit Court reviews the judge's decision. Nonetheless, bill proponents argue that this legislation is necessary to protect endangered USFS land from alleged environmentally depredating activities such as mining and logging (which create roads for OHV recreation).
Naturally, opponents of the bill, including SEMA and the organized nationwide OHV community, criticize it as an attempt to enact the roadless rule's flaws into law. Chief among this bill's flaws is the philosophical underpinning that suggests that public lands should somehow be "off-limits" to certain portions of the public.
A second, more specific bill would severely curtail the OHV hobby in California. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) introduced a bill to designate as "wilderness areas" another 2.5 million acres of public land in 77 different locations across California. The bill is a threat to off-highway vehicle enthusiasts and business communities because motorized vehicles are denied access to lands designated as wilderness areas. Fourteen million acres of land in California already have the wilderness designation.
The "roadless" bill already has 160 cosponsors in the U.S. House and a companion bill is expected to be introduced in the U.S. Senate. Meanwhile, Boxer is working with Rep. Hilda L. Solis (D-El Monte) to also introduce the California wilderness bill in the House.
Put SEMA on Your Mailing List, Etc.
We'd like to know what clubs and enthusiasts across the country are up to; what charity events they're involved in; when and where rod runs, car shows and rallies are held; and what issues concern club members and individual enthusiasts. One of the best ways to keep us abreast of what is going on and what is important to the automobile hobbies nationwide is to receive club newsletters and updates. Consider putting SEMA on your mailing list. Send correspondence to SEMA Action Network, 1317 F St., NW, Ste. 500, Washington, D.C. 20004. Clubs can also reach us via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by fax at 202/783-6024.
We Get Letters
Steve Jack's letter ("Driving Force," June 2002) taking SEMA to task for our anti-CAFE stance drew a lot of comments. Regardless of our stance on CAFE, we thank Mr. Jack for spurring the debate. We also appreciate the spirited discussion and the careful effort folks made to disagree without being disagreeable.
I agree with Steve Jack's letter urging SEMA to stop fighting CAFE standards to such extents. I'm involved with every facet of motorsports and it still sickens me to see a 2002 vehicle getting 15 miles per gallon. Look what GM has done with the Corvette. Let's force some of that technology to trickle down. The costs are worth it. We all know you can't go to extremes on either side.
-- Eric Lawrence
Oneida, New York
I just read the June 2002 "Driving Force" and would like to respond to the letter from Steve Jack.
I do not agree with his comments, and I'll site some reasons. I, for one, don't like the new, aerodynamic look of today's lightweight vehicles. I dislike the fact that the plastic parts in these vehicles deteriorate rapidly (particularly here in Southern Arizona). I don't feel safe in them at 75 miles per hour when I see the bumper of the vehicle behind me in my rear view mirror. I feel much safer in my Tahoe, and am happy with 20 miles per gallon.
I still want to be able to have vehicles that will tow anything I feel like towing, and be able to tow a trailer with an old, classic (heavy) car on it. If funding the enemy is such an issue (and I agree with that), then push to develop our own resources. I'm sure the caribou in Alaska won't mind or even know we are there. The environmentalists are really stretching on this one, in my opinion.
We are a free country, and I thank God (and all the people who gave their lives) for that! If I refuse to fly again, if I give in to the idea that all vehicles must be small, energy efficient, econo-boxes, or if I stop doing anything, the enemy wins! They have stolen freedom from me, one step at a time. I'm an American! That isn't going to happen!
I appreciate the fact that Jack is an engineer, and I'm not, but I am convinced that he is wrong in that these late-model, energy efficient, lightweight cars are safe. To prove my point, I'm certain he would not like to be in a head-on collision in, oh . . . say, a Toyota Echo with me in my Neanderthal-like 171 Chevrolet one-ton pickup.
Thanks for listening to a different opinion from an old geezer who likes old vehicles.
-- Bill Wivell
I would like to comment on Steve Jack's letter regarding the CAFE standards. My point of view is different from Jack's on a philosophical level. It seems he welcomes government regulation and restriction, where I feel strongly that a free market will drive the same innovations and efficiencies due to the great capitalist lubricant - money.
It's a simplistic argument to imply CAFE standards are solely responsible for the technology infusion in the automotive market. This implies that auto manufacturer's raw greed and desire to attract customers with better products, and trump other manufacturers, does not even enter the picture!
Is CAFE an evil entity? No. Is raising CAFE standards in years to come going to do much to help us reduce dependency on foreign oil? No! We're as dependent on foreign oil now as we were in the pre-CAFE 1970's. It's a bit of a flag waving gimmick to suggest we should 'do it for your country' and support CAFE hikes. It is easy to turn that gimmick around and say your country needs you to drill in Alaska.
To summarize, like Jack, I am a design professional but I feel strongly that governmental restrictions are not the answer when it comes to inspiring innovation. Government standards are just that - standards. They establish a minimum requirement for doing business in the U.S. They are valuable for importers to understand the requirements that must be met for retail in the U.S., but are not the place to look when attempting to inspire designers and engineers to innovate. Case in point, there have been several hybrid vehicles entering
production and numerous innovations over the last several years, a time in which CAFE standards have been frozen!
-- C. Brackman
I don't think that Detroit downsizing their cars or mass fleets of SUVs is such a bad thing. Tuners will survive. Having just visited and written an article on a tremendous shop called Garage SPL (import, Japanese, BMW and VW), I know. And I would love to get my 52-year-old butt into the seat of a 2003 Mini-Cooper S.
The lesson I feel we need to learn from September 11 is if we don't ratchet back on oil use ASAP, we are going to continue to face onslaughts from the Middle East. I believe in free choice, but if I see one more single yuppie in a 6,000-pound piece of automotive jewelry, I will give up hope of ever seeing the country released from the grip of the Saudi royal family.
For what it is worth.
-- Terry Parkhurst
JULY SAN CLUB EVENTS
July 20, Pland
Oceanfest Metrolink Beach Train Tour
Sponsor: Early Ford V-8 Club, Baldy View Region
July 19-24, Salida
9th Annual Rocky Mountain Rendezvous
Sponsor: Scout and International Motor Truck Association
July 5-7, Des Moines
11th Heartland Nationals
Sponsor: Goodguys Rod and Custom Association
July 27, Saugus
2002 Cruz In
Sponsor: Bearing Burners Car Club
National Round Up
Sponsor: Cosworth Vega Owners Association
July 28, Durhamville
Summer Picnic and Pig Roast
Sponsor: Mohican Model A Ford Club
July 19-21, Dickinson
19th Annual Rod Run
Sponsor: Prairie Cruisers
July 12-14, Columbus
5th Annual PPG Nationals
Sponsor: Goodguys Rod and Custom Association
July 3-6, Grapevine
Sponsor: North American MGB Register
July 1-6, Leesburg
37th Annual National Meet
Sponsor: Packard Automobile Club
July 19-21, Puyallup
15th Pacific Northwest Nationals
Sponsor: Goodguys Rod and Custom Association
July 6, Grafton
12th Annual Car Show