Driving Force Presented 'Golden Quill' Award
The folks at Old Cars Weekly News & Marketplace recently recognized Driving Force’s efforts to protect the hobby from government intrusion while promoting its growth. We thank them for their support and look forward to a continued partnership with their publication.
While it’s always nice to have your hard work noticed, the SEMA Action Network staff does what it does for the love of the hobby. Brian Caudill (Driving Force Editor), Steve McDonald, Stuart Gosswein and Andrew Rasberry work as a team to arm SEMA Action Network members with information regarding legislation and regulations affecting the hobby. What makes it all worthwhile is when you, the enthusiasts, are motivated to act and collectively we are successful in protecting our hobby from unnecessary government intrusion. Legislators only answer to their constituents, and were it not for SAN members around the country calling and writing their elected officials to voice their concerns, our pastime would almost certainly be worse off.
We owe every SAN member a big “Thank You” for willingly jumping into action to support the hobby and our way of life. This award belongs to you, just as much as it belongs to us.
CARB Reviews Scrappage Regulations
In late July, SEMA and other aftermarket associations submitted joint comments to a California Air Resources Board (CARB) draft proposal to revise its vehicle scrappage regulations. The draft proposal attempts to minimize differences between CARB’s scrappage program and the scrappage program operated by the Bureau of Automotive Repair. At SEMA’s insistence and per California law, the draft also proposes policy options designed to maximize parts recycling.
SEMA has long believed that California law is very specific in requiring “vehicle retirement” programs to “maximize the salvage value of vehicles through recycling, sales and use of parts . . .” (Calif. Health and Safety Code, Section 44102). We believe this clearly indicates the legislative intent to accommodate the interests of car collectors and low-income citizens. In the past, CARB has maintained a far different interpretation and, to date, has done nothing to ensure that parts from retired vehicles remain available to automobile collectors and restorers or low-income drivers.
UnderOption 3 of the draft proposal, CARB would allow total recycling and resale of all parts, including emissions-related and drive train parts. “SEMA believes Option 3 is not only the most desirable to vehicle collectors but also the easiest to implement,” said SEMA Director of Government Affairs Steve McDonald. “It would provide the greatest flexibility and least burden, while also maximizing the availability of vehicles and parts and reducing overall emissions of the vehicle fleet.”
Option 1 of the proposal would continue CARB’s prohibition on parts recycling, while Option 2 would allow the recycling of all but emission-related and drive train parts.
After reviewing comments to the draft proposal, CARB will publish final proposed changes for formal public review. We will keep you updated on developments.
U.S. Forest Service Rethinks 'Roadless Rule'
Adding a new chapter to the contentious debate over public access to federal land, the U.S. Forest Service is reconsidering the Clinton Administration’s regulation prohibiting road construction and maintenance in 58.5 million acres of national forests. This controversial regulation is commonly known as the “Roadless Rule.”
Announced by the Clinton Administration on Jan. 5 of this year, the original regulation outraged the off-highway vehicle (OHV) community because it threatened to effectively close many miles of forest roads currently enjoyed by recreationists nationwide. In response, the OHV community, including SAN members like the California 4 Wheel Drive Association, East Coast 4 Wheel Drive Association, Pacific Northwest 4 Wheel Drive Association and the United Four Wheel Drive Associations, joined the timber industry, many western state governments and other forest access supporters in protesting the regulation in both Congress and the courts.
So far, the strategy has worked. A federal judge has blocked the roadless rule from continuing, and in July, the Bush Administration formally reopened deliberations on a new regulatory approach designed to appease the OHV community and other land access advocates.
As part of the new rulemaking, the Forest Service sought comments on a number of priority questions: how roadless areas should be managed; what activities should be allowed in roadless areas; how the agency should work with local groups in creating forest policy; and what activities should be allowed or banned at “unroaded” sites.
In its comments to the new proposed rule, SEMA urged the Forest Service to protect the legitimate interests of OHV recreation and the industry that supports this popular pastime. Brian Caudill, SEMA director of outreach and public affairs, noted SEMA’s basic position, “Road and trail access is about more than environmental concerns for the ‘green’ movement and financial considerations for the timber and mining industries. It’s also about fairness. Tens of thousands OHV hobbyists enjoy access to established Forest Service roads every year and have been doing so for decades. To simply block access to the land without sufficient justification is unwarranted and excessive. We hope the Forest Service will take our comments into consideration when issuing a final rule.”
U.S. House Addresses Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE)
During recent consideration of the Bush Administration’s national energy policy program, the U.S. House of Representatives rejected hard-fought efforts to drastically hike Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards. Current CAFE targets are frozen at 20.7 mpg for light trucks and SUVs and 27.5 for passenger cars.
Legislative proposals to raise CAFE varied widely. Many House Members supported an incremental approach, raising CAFE from 20.7 to 25.8 mpg on light trucks and SUVs and from 27.5 to 31.6 on mpg on passenger cars by 2007. Hard-line environmentalist Members wanted greater concessions, preferring an across-the-board CAFE standard of 40 mpg by 2016. Still others preferred a go-slow approach, advocating a slight hike in standards for light trucks/SUVs alone.
For our part, automakers and SEMA opposed any legislative CAFE increase. Our argument remains that any CAFE hike will force automakers to limit consumer vehicle choice, particularly in the light truck/SUV and performance/luxury car markets, by either eliminating or curtailing production of popular models in order to meet fuel economy targets.
In the end, industry won a minor victory. Instead of raising standards specifically, the House bill would require light trucks to consume 5 billion fewer gallons of gas by 2010. Industry experts note that this will likely result in a net 1 mpg CAFE rise. The bill also includes tax incentives for purchasing vehicles equipped with advanced fuel economy technology, such as hybrid or alternative fuel vehicles.
Brian Caudill, SEMA Director of Outreach and Public Affairs notes with caution: “National energy policy and fuel economy considerations now move to the Senate where there is likely greater support for significantly raising CAFE. While SEMA remains confident that the nation’s energy crisis can be resolved without affecting consumer vehicle choice, we know the fight to prevent a CAFE rise in the Senate will be difficult. We encourage SEMA Action Network members to contact their Senators to oppose any legislation to increase CAFE.”
Can You Believe?
Bill Wivell and his wife were driving home from the local circle track one Saturday night in his Dodge Dart project car when they were pulled over. The officer told Bill that he had pulled him over because it appeared that the license plate light on his Dodge was broken, but the officer now realized that it was in fact working.
The officer then asked Bill to get out and take a look at it with him. Bill told the officer he’d take his word for it. Bill was then asked (we assume politely) to get out of the car to show the officer his license. He was then told that the reason he’d been pulled over was because he was weaving. When Bill was asked if he’d been drinking, he answered honestly: “Yes, I had three large Cokes at the races tonight.”
The officer, realizing he had made a mistake, commented that Bill’s alleged inability to keep his car going in a straight line could probably be blamed on his “old car with its worn out parts.” Bill took exception to the comment and informed the officer that his Dodge probably had a newer suspension than his squad car did and that his supposed weaving was probably due to the poor paving job the city had done on the road.
The officer told Bill to take it up with the mayor and that he was free to go.
How pleasant . . .
(If you have a story regarding unfair restrictions on our rights as hobbyists (or maybe just poor attitudes about what we choose to drive! ) send it to us at: Can You Believe, SEMA Action Network, 1317 F Street, NW, Suite 500, Washington, D.C. 20004.)
We Get Letters
[Mr. Sadat Vang’s letter on California exhaust noise legislation in the July Driving Force garnered a sizable reaction. Driving Force thanks you for your interest in this matter. Below is a reprint of Mr. Vang’s letter and a few responses.]
Food for Thought on California Exhaust Noise Law
(Reprint — July Driving Force)
I am an enthusiast of imports. I fully understand what the California Highway Patrol’s (CHP) [exhaust noise testing procedures] are. Only they can decide if we get tickets or not. After that, it’s up to us what we do. If the CHP doesn’t offer decibel testing, how can we go about testing these aftermarket exhaust systems? I think personally, if the CHP officer can write us a ticket he/she should be able to test our muffler at that point in time. If it falls under the 95 db(a) legal limit, then we’re cool. If it is over, then [the citation] is understandable. But as a car-craze lover, I need answers to my questions.
If [reasonable exhaust noise] legislation can pass, maybe more of us youngsters will grow up knowing our government is behind us on what our choices are. At this moment, I can truly say youngsters grow up not caring. We can care less about our neighbors. Government??? We laugh our heads off. Anyone can capture the youth. Give them a fair chance and make it work. Hey, look on the bright side; cars got me out of gangs. I’ve been into cars 5 years now. I’m 21.
– Sadat Vang
Sadat Vang of Sacramento, Calif., has an interesting point. However, the solution is simple. Buy and install only California-approved components, and carry the applicable certification in the vehicle. Do that and you should never receive a citation, and if you do the officer would be in trouble, not you.
I am assuming that such certification is available for exhaust components just as for engine modifications. This responsibility is now part of driving an emission-controlled vehicle and also applies to out-of-state visiting drivers since the regulations state “not for sale or use in California on vehicles driven on public roads,” for any non-approved component. Be compliant or risk a ticket; it’s up to you.
– Pete Harding
[We wish it were this simple. A car can be completely California emissions legal and STILL be considered too loud. – Ed.]
Kudos to Sadat Vang. If a love for performance cars convinced him to leave gang life and to straighten his act out, more power to him. What will it take to convince some of the authorities (surely they are not all ignorant of the hobby — are they?) that driving, caring for and trying to improve the performance of a cool car is better than any number of activities many young people are doing these days?
Make your choice: Would you rather have your son/daughter drinking or using drugs, or at the drag strip? Would you rather have your son/daughter staring blankly at a computer screen or under his/her car trying to understand what makes it work? Would you rather have your son/daughter involved in gangs or researching how a custom (and okay, maybe louder) exhaust might help squeeze a few extra horses out of his/her Honda?
I hope you choose wisely
– Robert Ortiz
San Antonio, Texas
I’m not a letter-writer ordinarily, but Sadat Vang’s note in the July Driving Force got to me. You mean to tell me that the CHP can pull you over, and write you a ticket for having [an exhaust] that [emits] more than 95 decibels, but offers you ZERO PROOF that your exhaust is actually louder than 95 decibels? How is this fair? Do other states create and enforce their laws the same way? I really hope not.
Mr. Vang is basically talking about our young people being alienated from the law and society. I applaud him for straightening up, but with capricious laws and law enforcement like this on the books, I’m surprised more people don’t stray from the straight and narrow.
– Robert Hood
[Unfortunately, in California a police officer can cite you for loud exhaust without proving your exhaust is louder than 95 decibels. The good news is that last month, a SEMA-sponsored law passed giving hobbyists the opportunity to fight unfair tickets by proving their exhaust systems comply with California law. Ironically, despite the enforcement trouble, California is still one of the most lenient states in regulating aftermarket exhaust. Most other states simply outlaw any exhaust that is substantially different from stock. – Ed. ]
I’m glad Sadat Vang found his way out of gang life. However, the implied excuses he makes for kids being alienated are weak. The implication that a new law — one allowing Mr. Vang and his cohorts to join Harley riders in blasting up my street and rattling my window frames with excessively loud exhaust — will make young people feel more connected to society is weaker still.
– Name Withheld by Request
SEPTEMBER SAN CLUB EVENTS
September 8-9, Sonoma—12th annual GOODGUYS Fall Classic Nostalgia Drags
September 30, - Fall Classic VIII Show
Sponsor: San Diego Camaro Club
September 7-9, Colorado Springs—4th annual GOODGUYS Colorado Classic
September 9, St. Charles—31st annual Midwest Antique Car Show
Sponsor: Model “T” Ford Club, Midwest Chapter
September 9, Oak Brook—2001 Fierorama Sponsor: Northern Illinois Fiero Enthusiasts
September 30, Baltimore—15th annual All Buick Car Show
Sponsor: Buick Owners of Maryland
September 14-16, Kalamazoo—22nd annual Street Rod Nationals North
Sponsor: National Street Rod Association
September 29, New Brighton—MSRA Fall Foliage Picnic
Sponsor: Minnesota Street Rod Association
September 15, Woodbine - Antique Car and Truck Show to Benefit the Linda Carter Cancer Fund
Sponsor: Cohanzick Antique Auto Club
September 7-9, Springfield—12th annual IH Scout and Light Truck Nationals
Sponsor: Scout and International Motor Truck Association
September 16, Lehigh Valley—4th annual Children Miracle Network Car Show
Sponsor: Blue Angel Cruisers
September 29, New Braunfels—19th annual Mopar Muscle and Classic Car Show
Sponsor: Mopar Muscle Club of San Antonio