June 28, 2016
Stephen Cox Blog Presented by McGunegill Engine Performance
Even as Americans grill hot dogs, gawk at fireworks and celebrate freedoms we don't have, the Environmental Protection Agency recently planned to hit the motorsports community with a devastating blow. Although the agency now appears to be backing off the original plan, there is still no clear legislation to prevent it from reappearing.
The EPA's Clean Air Act, which has afflicted decent people since 1970, is an ever-growing but never totally understood mass of vagueness that the EPA calls upon any time it craves yet another vast expansion of its already criminally overreaching power.
Citing this act for justification, the EPA planned last year to establish control over the motorsports industry and grant itself the ability to regulate or completely outlaw competition vehicles at its whim. This comes despite the fact that the US Congress has clearly instructed the EPA for over 25 years to keep their noses out of motor racing.
Simply stated, the net effect of the EPA's power grab would have made it illegal to race any production based vehicle. Short track classes such as front wheel drive four cylinders, street stocks and many late model ranks would cease to exist. Sports car racing would be wiped out at all but the highest levels.
The racing industry's return volley has come from congressman Patrick McHenry and Senator Richard Burr, both from North Carolina, who have introduced bills to restrict the EPA from doing what congress has already told it not to do. The case for both bills revolves largely around the so-called economic impact of auto racing, attempting to bribe the political establishment with the claim that jobs (and therefore, tax collections) are greater if the grass roots level of the sport continues to grow.
As of this writing, both bills are still active in committee hearings and being given a 2% chance to pass by the congressional bill tracking service at GovTrack.us despite widespread support from SEMA and most racing organizations. However, as a direct result of these bills, the EPA has (at least for temporarily) backed off its efforts.
While political means are certainly a noble effort, they are also precisely what got us here. The same Congress that created this Frankenstein is now trying to save us from it. The irony is too great for words.
So perhaps it's time to stop waiting on Congress, the EPA and every other alphabet soup bureaucracy to “allow” us to do things that we already have a right to do with or without their permission. As Henry David Thoreau said, “There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root.”
The best way to prevent the EPA from making any future attempts to shut down auto racing is simply to get rid of the EPA. It has no constitutional authority to exist (and is explicitly prohibited from existing by the 9th and 10th Amendments) and America will be a better, safer place when it is shut down.
On the other hand, if the EPA should attempt to renew its power grab, auto racing will still have the option to simply disobey. Let them write citations all season long. We'll race anyway. I'll happily pay my fine every weekend. It'll be the best money I ever spent.
Disobedience has a long and proud history whereas the robotic, Pavlovian habit of doing what we're told is a relatively new phenomenon in the American experience. From Patrick Henry to Geronimo to Rosa Parks, Americans were a downright ornery lot until very recently, when the disturbing and slovenly habit of submission somehow became the new norm. Maybe it's time to recapture some of our past glory.
I certainly hope these bills save us the trouble by passing Congress and staving off any future bureaucratic nightmares from the EPA.
But if they don't, it sorta makes you wonder what we're all celebrating this July 4th… cause it sure ain't freedom.
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