Environment Canada Proposes Indefinite Exemption for Leaded Gasoline in Competition Vehicles

The SEMA Action Network (SAN) is supporting a proposal issued by Environment Canada to indefinitely extend an exemption which permits the use of leaded gasoline in competition motor vehicles. The exemption has been renewed several times since it was first established in 1996, but was set to expire in 2010. SAN had previously opposed efforts to terminate the exemption and effectively ban vehicles using leaded fuel. The new proposal recognizes the relationship between the Canadian and U.S. racing industries and adopts a consistent environmental approach to leaded fuel use. Environment Canada will conduct a five-year review and revisit the exemption issue if necessary based on science, technology and fuel replacement developments. Meanwhile, the agency will work with the racing industry to encourage a voluntary reduction or phase-out of leaded racing fuel.

Environment Canada's proposal identifies a number of reasons for providing an indefinite lead fuel exemption. The reasons include the fact that:

  • In the United States, the Clean Air Act specifically exempts fuels for competition-use vehicles;
  • The North American racing industry is fully integrated, with both competitors and spectators crossing country borders to participate in and attend events;
  • There are an estimated 165 racing facilities operating in Canada which support thousands of jobs and generate millions of dollars of economic benefit for local businesses and communities;
  • Although there are fuel alternatives for some racing vehicles, the drag racing industry still requires leaded gasoline;
  • While the racing industry continues to move towards long-term independence from leaded fuel, the amount used in Canada is miniscule when compared to total leaded fuel use: 2 percent by competition vehicles versus 98 percent by piston engine aircraft. To put the issue in perspective, 99.8 percent of gasoline used in Canada is already lead free.

The SAN will keep you informed of any further developments.