Our automotive hobby (and livelihood in some cases) is under more threat than ever before. With America's political landscape more and more resembling the fracture and conflict immediately before the Civil War, it has never been more important for auto enthusiasts to exercise their constitutional right to participate in their government. Thanks to the folks at the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA), we can share the below information to both educate, and show how becoming involved isn't hard, and is definitely necessary.
This fall we again face an election crossroads in which many voters are seeking radical political change. This article is about how actions being taken by federal and state lawmakers impact you, the enthusiast. The need for the enthusiast community to stay informed and become involved is greater than ever. From emissions to auto equipment standards, the government is making decisions about your current and future car.
This topic is not limited to Washington D.C. While the federal government issues national rules dictating vehicle safety and emissions equipment, most other issues are handled at the state and local levels. From titling and registration to inspection and maintenance, your car is subject to decisions made by state and local officials too.
The future of our hobby depends on you. The ballot box is one venue for making your views known. Another is to work collectively with your fellow enthusiasts by joining the SEMA Action Network (SAN). SAN is a partnership between enthusiasts, car clubs, and members of the automotive aftermarket in the U.S. and Canada who have joined forces in support of legislative solutions for the auto hobby. It's free to join, and SAN keeps you informed about pending legislation and regulations-both good and bad-that will impact your state or the entire country. It also provides you with action alerts, speaking points, and lawmaker contact information if you want to support or oppose a bill. Join now at www.semasan.com
In recent years, state and federal officials have attempted to implement emissions reduction programs targeting older vehicles. Most programs allow "smokestack" industries to avoid reducing their own emissions by buying pollution credits generated through destroying older vehicles. These programs accelerate the normal retirement of older vehicles, which are purchased, then typically crushed into scrap metal. Hobbyists suffer from the destruction of older cars, trucks, and parts sources, something anyone working on a restoration/modification project can attest.
Scrappage programs focus strictly on vehicle age or economy rather than actual emissions produced. This approach is based on the erroneous assumption that all old cars are dirty. However, the true culprits are gross polluters-vehicles of any model year that are poorly maintained. Scrappage programs ignore better options, like vehicle maintenance, repair, and upgrade programs that maximize the emissions systems of existing vehicles. In the past year, scrappage initiatives have been defeated in California, North Carolina, and Washington.
Enthusiasts played a vital role in altering federal scrappage legislation in 2009 when an amendment was worked into the "Cash for Clunkers" program to spare vehicles 25-years and older from the scrap heap and expand parts recycling opportunities. Cash for Clunkers operated through voluntary consumer participation, allowing car owners to receive a voucher to help buy a new auto in exchange for scrapping a less fuel-efficient vehicle. Enthusiasts eased the program's negative effects by convincing lawmakers to include a requirement that the trade-in be a 1984 or newer model. This provision helped safeguard older vehicles, which are irreplaceable to hobbyists as a source of parts.