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AZXJ
08-26-2005, 04:24 AM
SEMA Crushes Vehicle Scrappage Program

Federal Highway Bill Excludes Funds to Flatten Cars

Enthusiasts can now breathe a little easier. It looks as though the federal government isnt going to buy and scrap old vehiclesfor now. SEMA, working with the SAN, has once again prevented the use of federal monies to fund motor vehicle scrappage programs. The latest victory came as Congress completed work on legislation to fund highway construction and public transportation through 2009. President Bush signed the $286.5 billion bill into law on August 10.

Every few years, Congress must reauthorize the highway laws. That process allows lawmakers to reconsider how monies are spent on highways and mass transit. However, it also provides an opportunity to lift the ban against spending federal taxpayer dollars on scrappage programs.

When the legislation was first introduced two years ago, the U.S. Department of Transportation proposed funding state and local scrappage programs through the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program (CMAQ). The program pays for things such as bike paths, carpool lanes and commuter parking lots. SEMA worked with a coalition of other specialty-equipment trade associations urging Congress not to authorize the scrappage proposal.

Lawmakers listened to our message, noted Steve McDonald, SEMAs vice president for government affairs. SEMA briefed leaders in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives on the fact that scrappage programs are not a cost-effective method to reduce motor vehicle emissions and unnecessarily remove collector vehicles and parts from the marketplace. The leaders pledged not to include vehicle scrappage funding in the highway bill, and they lived up to that pledge.

Scrappage programs accelerate natural vehicle retirement by allowing for the purchase of older cars from their owners. The vehicles are then typically crushed into blocks of scrap metal. Most scrappage programs are based on the trading of emissions credits and began as incentives for smokestack industries to determine the most cost-effective means of reducing pollution. SEMA opposes scrappage proposals. Where proposals cannot be defeated, SEMA seeks to amend them to protect collector vehicles and parts cars, focus on gross polluters, use measured emission values, allow parts recycling and include repair/upgrade alternatives.

SEMA will oppose any future efforts to authorize vehicle scrappage programs, be they on the state or national levels, said McDonald. We believe that all mobile source emissions-reduction programs should be carefully developed to achieve real environmental benefits while keeping the impact on businesses and the public as low as possible. A scrappage program that indiscriminately targets older vehiclesespecially well-maintained and infrequently driven collector vehiclesdoes not meet that criteria.

In related news, California lawmakers are considering a proposal that would allow owners to trade high-polluting cars and trucks for cleaner-running vehicles. Proposed by Assemblyman David Cogdill (R-Modesto), AB 184 would operate in conjunction with the state Consumer Assistance Program, which provides financial assistance to owners if their cars fail a smog check. Cogdill has stated that the existing program is not taking enough high polluters off the road. Under AB 184, individuals who donate high-polluting vehicle for scrappage will be replaced with lower-polluting cars of a similar model. Given that this proposal again targets older vehicles for scrappagemany of which are collected and preserved by hobbyiststhe SAN is opposing this legislation.




OFF-ROAD NEWS

Taking it to the Hill

Off-Road Advocates Convene Summit in Washington, DC

SEMA and the SEMA Action Network joined with the Off-Road Business Association (ORBA) and the BlueRibbon Coalition to sponsor a Washington Summit for Motorized Off-Highway Vehicle Recreation. Over 60 participants from 20 organizations asked members of Congress to support Endangered Species Act (ESA) reform legislation and to preserve access for off-highway vehicles (OHVs) on federal lands.

Flanked by staff from the SEMA Government Affairs Office, summit participants visited Congressional offices, including personal visits with Reps. Gary Miller (R-CA) and Mike Rogers (R-AL). They expressed support for managed care of the nations public lands in ways that still provide opportunities for responsible off-roading.

A key topic of the Summit was proposed changes to the ESA. Chairman Richard Pombo (R-CA) of the House Resources Committee is pursuing a rewrite of the law to better achieve its goals: saving endangered animals and plants. Enacted in 1973, the ESA has saved only 10 species out of 1,800 listings. Meanwhile, millions of acres of land have been closed with more set-asides in the works. For years, property owners and off-roaders have argued that the government lists species and sets aside land too quickly and without enough scientific evidence.

Chairman Pombo is working with other members of Congress, state and local lawmakers of both parties to craft a better approach. The SEMA-supported legislation calls for mediation before lawsuits, more scientific input on identifying threatened species and creating recovery plans, more local input and a different approach to setting aside critical habitat. The focus would be on saving species, not just locking up land.

What theyre doing right now in terms of the science is not working, Chairman Pombo said to the Summit participants. Lets go in and do field studies; lets go in and look at what the habitat is; lets determine whether or not the species truly is endangered before we put it on the list. Once that determination has been made, lets come up with a recovery plan; lets designate a habitat; lets move forward and focus on recovery, and not focus on the bureaucracy as we are doing now.

A House Resources Subcommittee also held a hearing on Motorized Recreational Use on Federal Land. Representatives from the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management discussed efforts to regulate OHV use on federal lands due to their growing popularity. The agencies will be designating officially sanctioned roads and trails for OHVs. Off-road community representatives emphasized that there are scores of user-created roads and trails that dont yet appear on Forest Service maps. They want these inventoried so that they can be officially sanctioned.

The agencies are currently inventorying the roads and trails, a process that could take years, said Jason Tolleson, director of the SEMA Action Network. SEMA has alerted the Forest Service that many of these routes came into existence during open management. They serve a legitimate need and do not pose an environmental threat. In some cases, these uninventoried routes may even be more environmentally friendly and provide a better overall access solution than their inventoried counterparts.

Additional information is available on the federal land use page on the www.semasan.com website.

Caption 1:
Dan Kettelson of Performance Truck Centers in Alabama attended the Washington Summit for Motorized Off-Highway Vehicle Recreation along with Chairman Richard Pombo and SEMA Vice President for Government Affairs Steve McDonald.

Caption 2:
Attendees at a House Resources Subcommittee hearing on Motorized Recreational Use on Federal Land discussed efforts to regulate OHV use on federal lands due to their growing popularity.

Sidebar:

Wilderness Bills: For the third time in three years, the Senate voted to create the 106,000-acre Wild Sky Wilderness in Washingtons Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest. The Senate also passed legislation to designate as wilderness 300,000 acres in Northern Californias Del Norte, Humboldt, Lake, Mendocino and Napa counties. Off-highway vehicles (OHVs) would be banned from the areas since wilderness is by definition roadless. The SAN opposes the legislation since it would close existing, legal OHV roads and trails. Alternatively, the SAN supports a backcountry designation that would generally protect the lands as wilderness but also designate areas for motorized recreation where appropriate. It is unclear when or if the House will take up the two Senate bills.

LEGISLATIVE QUICK HITS

Illinois Blue Dots: A SAN-supported bill that would allow antique vehicles to display a blue light of up to one-inch diameter as part of the vehicles rear stop lamps was signed into law by Illinois Governor Rod R. Blagojevich. The measure recognizes that blue dot taillights have no detrimental impact on safety and enables enthusiasts to modify their vehicles to recall in fine detail the glory days of Americas hot rod era. The new Illinois law follows in the tradition of similar laws enacted recently in Minnesota, Montana, Missouri, Rhode Island and Georgia.

New York Spinners: SAN-opposed legislation that would have prohibited the sale and use of motor vehicles equipped with spinner hubcaps died in the New York Legislature when the session adjourned for the year. The bill would have subjected vehicle owners to fines of up to $750 for a third or subsequent violation. Those convicted of selling spinner hubcaps would have been fined $150 for each violation. The measure ignored the fact that custom wheels are not prohibited by Federal law and that spinner hubcaps have no proven detrimental effect on motor vehicle safety. New York was the latest state to attempt a ban on spinners. Earlier this year, the SAN defeated similar legislation in Iowa and Virginia. The bill may be considered again in 2006.


SEMA To Work With California Officials to Address Vehicle Profiling

California state officials announced the first in a series of $5 million in state grants targeting illegal street racing. According to these officials, the grants would pay for training to enable police officers to recognize automobiles that have been illegally modified for street racing; provide funds for officer overtime in connection with joint enforcement operations; and establish illegal street racing education presentations to high school and college students. The Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR) is making itself available to provide technical support for the program. Law enforcement officers can contact BAR technical experts to get advice on whether modifications to street-racing vehicles violate Californias laws against emission-system tampering. Notably, owners of illegally modified cars can be cited for failing to meet state emissions standards, which can lead to substantial fines and fees.

Most of these vehicle modifications are legal under California law, said SEMA Vice President of Government Affairs Steve McDonald. SEMA has been meeting with state and local officials for years to underscore that they should not profile drivers and target accessorized vehicles. SEMA and the SAN will continue to pursue this message in Sacramento and around the state while directing attention to the SEMA-sponsored Racers Against Street Racing (http://www.rasr.info/) program designed to take illegal racing off the streets without unfairly targeting legally modified vehicles.