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How The EPA Has Hustled The American Public

By Chris Callen, Editor Cycle Source Magazine


Ten Years After The MIC / EPA Summit The Battle Goes On

In 2016 the motorcycle industry reported that for the first time in over a decade the sale of tires and batteries had dropped. At the same time, in the area of chrome plating there were far fewer resources for motorcycle builders. This is an industry within ours that was at one time thriving, and now is desperate and disappearing. The cost of raw materials continues to climb at staggering rates and we have come to the same conclusions time after time: It;s just cheaper to have it done for you (Outsourcing) than it is to try and make things yourself. How and why we got to this point seems to come back to EPA regulations.
The regulations as they exist in relationship to the parts we make and the bikes we build affect each and every aspect of our process. In fact, so much has changed for the motorcycle industry and the American manufacturer over the past ten years that it seems we need to have a conversation regarding why?

My assertion is that, as a country, we may need to put a hold on the EPAs reign over every aspect of our industry and compare our standards to those of the rest of the world before continuing to handicap American Businesses by regulating them out of competition. By their own calculations after all, they have dropped the Aggregate emissions of six common pollutants 69% between 1970 and 2014. Unfortunately, in this same time, we have seen the rest of the worlds pollution levels rise. But hey, it's not in our backyard, right? WRONG!

For the purpose of illustrating the misconceptions that the average motorcycle enthusiast has about how deep the EPAs reach goes, let's start with the tailpipe. At first glance when you mention EPA regulations most people immediately think about the amount of pollutants, both sound and chemical, that comes out of the end of the motorcycle exhaust pipe. Let me put it to you in a way that shows the cause and effect on our economy.

The EPA regulates the raw steel the exhaust pipe is made of. The transportation of that material is regulated both in the vehicles used and the fuel they burn, even the roads they travel on and their construction. The facilities manufacturing pipes face EPA regs. And, of course, the plating or powder coating of final products is also scrutinized by the EPA.
Even advertising of exhaust pipes is affected by EPA regulations as all printed material falls within their influence. But, it does not stop there. If that exhaust pipe is going to be used on a manufacturers motorcycle, which was certified by the EPA, the company that makes it, sells it and the technician who installs it are all potentially in violation of tampering with laws in the books.
Even if that vehicle is being modified for Race Only applications, according to the EPAs new interpretation of the Clean Air Act, the same is true: Violations. It all adds up to an unrealistic amount of regulation for what is basically a blue collar, cottage industry at best.  
Let's get you up to speed and do some homework on the timeline.

Eight to ten years ago, I had the privilege of sitting in on the EPA Summit the V-Twin industry had at their annual expo in Cincinnati. At the time, our industry was reeling with the possibility of new regulations and what they would mean to how we did business. There was talk of new initiatives for EPA certification testing. We questioned if we could even withstand all that would need to be done to bring the industry into compliance. To say that the discussion got heavy would be an understatement.

Fast forward to now. We have almost been lulled into a sense of business as usual; as if the non-stop adjustment of the EPA's regulations and their impact on how the American Manufacturing segment does business is almost a non-issue. Then in August of 2016 it happened. The EPA and the DOJ reached a settlement with Harley-Davidson motor company over their race-only tuners. According to the law, they violated EPA compliance standards. The settlement was 15 million dollars, of which 3 million was ear marked for the research and upgrading on wood burning stoves.

This was damn alarming for a few reasons,
1. The fact that this settlement contained a 3 million dollar funding component that has nothing to do with motorcycle emissions and
2. That it may set a precedent that would give the EPA the ability to go after any company that has been selling products under the For Competition Use Only definition. This has been a three decade long unwritten agreement for a safe place to do business as far as the motorcycle aftermarket performance industry is concerned, and it would appear that between this and the recent New Interpretation of the Clean Air Act by the EPA that safe place is coming under scrutiny. The details of this whole debacle are so confusing it took a team of scientists and legislators to really look into it.
Even then, no one is really sure how to interpret the law or the science it's based on. This is exactly how they want it to be, complicated. They would like you and I, the American Worker, to see this volume of information as an overwhelming amount of facts that we have neither the time nor the education to digest, while we struggle to find ways to make a living in their new world. We can no longer take this approach. We need to get involved and find ways to make it easier to understand. Plus, we need to be able to point out their failures as they apply to our business.

Here is my stance on this issue: I am also not telling you to believe one way or another when it comes to the science of climate control. I have seen and read compelling studies in both directions. It doesn’t matter which party you voted for in the last election. One thing we can agree on is this: In the past decade, as EPA regulations have increased, we have taken American Manufacturing and the economy that goes with it and moved it to other countries, who have far lower standards for environmental impact.
 We have handicapped the American manufacturer and the American economy in an attempt to be a leader in the Go Green principals driving globalization. And this is not just an agenda our government has been working on for the past decade. No, in fact traces of globalization initiatives started with Bush Sr. and have continued through the three administrations after him. In total, it adds up to 28 years of presidential terms and each term towed the line for globalization.

Funny, they accomplished little for any of the problems our world faces today. The security they promised was never reached. Humanitarian conditions have not been improved around the world, and finally the conditions of our own country have worsened in many ways, as we continue to try and force our way of living on other countries.
Rather than believe we can get anywhere by trying to change the world, let’s shift gears and first try to have some impact in our own backyard. The new administration has promised to roll back as much as 75% of the EPA regulations to put the American worker back on the job, but what does that mean to the motorcycle industry?
It means that we need to come together and begin to develop a singular voice about what our needs and challenges are as they apply to being small American Manufacturers. Additionally, we need to stop worrying as much about what comes out of the tail pipe and move the conversation to the broader agenda. EPA regulations have impacted every part of our industry and are largely responsible for keeping American Companies at a competitive disadvantage. Everything from raw materials, their transportation, use and delivery right down to the choice of where to advertise a final product have been wildly regulated by the EPA and all the while the rest of the world has not only shirked their own responsibility to the environment, their humanitarian standards and trade practices compared to the United States are also in need of reexamination.

Enter Keith Ball of BikerNet.com and the Jay Jackson from the MRF. I have been working with Keith for several years in an attempt to get the MRF to see the value of an industry council that will speak to what action is needed to get government out of the way of small American Manufacturing and their ability to do business in the motorcycle industry. Finally, at the V-Twin Expo they agreed to come out and support Keith's initiative to have a seminar on climate issues where he would show a documentary titled Climate Hustle.
After the film there would be an open conversation about where we stand today. I was honored to be part of this seminar and to do my part I decided to start reading. To form a clear picture of where we really are I made phone calls to all ends of the industry. The facts I found put us at even more of a disadvantage. Even as motorcycle people, we are polarized and to develop a singular voice would take some work

THE CLIMATE HUSTLE: Like I said earlier in this article, it does not matter which way you personally believe, the fact that Keith Ball has turned us on to documentaries like Climate Hustle and Cow-Spiracy have only gone to further prove there is no Exact Science when it comes to environmental changes and the human impact on them.
What can be taken away is that the government, by agencies and individual climate super heroes like Al Gore, have used the Climate Controversy for decades to prove the need for their programs and to fund their government studies from tax payer dollars while rocking the foundation of the American worker with their findings. They can't even make their minds up as to whether it's getting colder or warmer. In Climate Hustle we were reminded that in 1978 all scientists and government agencies agreed that if we did not do something about our impact on the environment we would be facing an ice age as temperatures were continuing to fall. At best this whole movement has been a shell game that keeps us from unifying under a singular purpose for a better standard of living in our own country.

THE CLEAN AIR ACT: (From Wikipedia) The Clean Air Act is a United States federal law established in 1970 and designed to control air pollution on a national level. At that time it was decided, as with many other environmental issues, that it would be administered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA.

RACE ONLY EXEMPTION: Upon initial adaptation of the Clean Air Act, the U.S. Congress had exempted race vehicles from regulation. (From SEMA) However, in 2015, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) asserted that it is illegal to convert a motor vehicle into a race car if the vehicles emissions system no longer remains in its certified configuration. The agency alleges that the Clean Air Act exemption only applies to purpose-built race vehicles (NASCAR, Formula One, sprint cars, etc.). EPA is also claiming authority over any emissions-related parts produced, sold, and installed on motor vehicles converted for racing. Since the Clean Air Acts enactment, SEMA is unaware of a single instance in which the EPA previously took the position that the law applies to motor vehicles converted for race-use-only purposes. Before the EPA announced its new interpretation in 2015, industry had a clear understanding that these vehicles are excluded from the Clean Air Act.

THE RPM ACT: (From SEMA) The Recognizing the Protection of Motorsports (RPM) Act, is a bipartisan bill that protects Americans’ right to modify street vehicles into dedicated race cars and industry’s right to sell the parts that enable racers to compete. The bill was reintroduced in January 2017, at the beginning of the new Congress, in the U.S. House of Representatives (H.R. 350) by Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-NC) and in the U.S. Senate (S.203) by Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.). Both 2017 bills are identical to the 2016 versions.

MOTORCYCLES AS A SPORT: While the above definitions are in play as they apply to aftermarket performance parts, the fine line that separates race only vehicles starts to blur. The government tends to refer to our industry and culture as a sport and the vehicles as recreational vehicles. That's not the case. While there are many aspects of our industry which fall into the Competition Use category, but most of us see the motorcycle as a way of life and should be defined under those terms.

SO, WHAT CAN YOU DO: Because the way these laws continue to be read and interpreted and the EPA's calls for a zero-tolerance approach, we're screwed. Until other countries around the world fall into compliance with basic environmental and humanitarian standards we should not be kept at a disadvantage. 

As I stated earlier, we have a glimmer of hope right now while the new administration is making big promises to react to the needs of the American Manufacturer. While this opportunity is viable we need to develop a list of priorities and send a message to our elected officials about what exactly we need relief from to get Americans working again through the motorcycle industry.
But we can not do this alone. In order to have the message get through, we need the help of all the SMROs (State Motorcycle Rights Organizations) and NMROs (National Motorcycle Rights Organizations.
 I believe a new direction should be launched by all of them. We need a level playing field based on American jobs. To that end. there are several organizations you can choose from: The MRF (Motorcycle Riders Foundation) The AMA (American Motorcycle Association) ABATE (Alliance Of Bikers Aimed Toward Education) BOLT (Bikers Of Lesser Tolerance) MIC (Motorcycle Industry Council) SEMA (Specialty Equipment Market Association) just to name a few.
While they all have their strengths and weaknesses, knowledge is power and you can't affect change without getting in the game. In other areas, there have been several meetings of a Custom Culture Advisory Panel that intends to develop a message that combines all ends of the motorcycle industry. They have had some great success lately gathering companies and individuals, ranging from the small shop builder to the large OEMs. While at this time this is happening in an unofficial capacity the meetings have created some great dialogue and continue to gain participation. Bob Kay has been heading that up and we have supported it from the beginning. You can get more info on it by contacting Bob directly through the AIMExpo. www.aimexpousa.com

While there is no magic bullet for any of this, the time is now, and in this short window we need to act. We need to have these conversations and decide what is the best way to move forward and get our industry rolling again. No, this is not the Fun part of motorcycling but as the words of our forefathers remind us, the price of freedom is eternal vigilance. I look forward to your questions and concerns after this article hits the streets.

It does not take a majority to prevail ... but rather an irate, tireless minority, keen on setting brushfires of freedom in the minds of men. - Samuel Adams

This article by Chris Callen appears in the April 2017 issue of Cycle Source magazine. It is printed here with his permission. This is the 20th Anniversary Issue and may become a collectors item. Grab a copy, quick.--Rogue

The issue will be on newsstands on March 7 or can be purchased here: http://scootertrampbrand-com.3dcartstores.com/April-2017_p_162.html


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