Diesel World

THE CLEAN AIR ACT AND YOU

- Cars · U.S. Environmental Protection Agency · California · United States of America · Bearden, AR

If you didn’t know be­fore, you know now, within the last year the EPA has started to heav­ily en­force the Clean Air Act. This means re­mov­ing emis­sions sys­tems, some­thing that has al­ways been fed­er­ally il­le­gal, is now be­ing en­forced harder than ever be­fore. Doesn’t mat­ter what your lo­cal mu­nic­i­pal­ity says, whether they en­force it or not, re­mov­ing emis­sions de­vices is and al­ways has been fed­er­ally il­le­gal. We have got­ten away from this old “smoke is power” or “smoke is cool” men­tal­ity, which has been great to see. So many guys are mak­ing gobs of power on the track with very lit­tle smoke. That’s im­pres­sive. We need to con­tinue this trend. Plus in the end, who re­ally wants to have a mas­sive sign point­ing at you after you’ve left the stop light with a full head of steam? That’s just ask­ing for trou­ble. I’d per­son­ally rather hot rod around town with­out call­ing at­ten­tion to my­self.

This re­cent change is go­ing to af­fect the diesel per­for­mance in­dus­try. I used to live in Cal­i­for­nia. I had a heav­ily mod­i­fied truck that was built be­fore CA started to smog diesels. When that changed, I was turn­ing wrenches at a truck shop, I saw the in­dus­try go through the change. We got used to it pretty quickly and the change just be­came part of nor­mal life there. Go­ing through that makes me ex­tremely con­fi­dent that we as an in­dus­try and en­thu­si­ast group as a whole, will get through this very quickly. It’s not go­ing to end diesel per­for­mance, not even close. Don’t pay any at­ten­tion to those who say oth­er­wise. Gassers went through this in the late 70’s and 80’s, look at that in­dus­try to­day, we’ve got 840hp pro­duc­tion cars. It’ll be hard for many, that’s for sure, but we as an in­dus­try and en­thu­si­ast group will get through this just fine I’m cer­tain.

What I’m about to go into next will mostly be for diesel in­dus­try pro­fes­sion­als, but we all can take some good info from it. Re­cently I was able to sit in on a sem­i­nar hosted by SEMA, with the topic be­ing emis­sions com­pli­ance and how it affects the au­to­mo­tive per­for­mance in­dus­try as a whole. In that sem­i­nar we heard from sev­eral peo­ple the most im­por­tant to this con­ver­sa­tion be­ing Evan Belser, the As­so­ciate Di­rec­tor of the Air En­force­ment Di­vi­sion for the EPA and Jeremiah Bear­den, the Ve­hi­cle En­force­ment Sec­tion Man­ager for CARB (Cal­i­for­nia Air Re­source Board). The two dis­cussed sep­a­rately what their di­vi­sions of the gov­ern­ment do and they ex­plained what they are cur­rently look­ing for as far as emis­sions com­pli­ance en­force­ment goes. They shared some in­ter­est­ing statis­tics; 13% of all diesel ve­hi­cles orig­i­nally equipped with DPF/ Egr/etc are deleted; these deleted ve­hi­cles are equiv­a­lent to adding 9-mil­lion diesel trucks worth of emis­sions to the planet (their words); this re­cent bump in en­force­ment stemmed from in­di­vid­ual states com­plaints; among other stats. What re­ally in­ter­ested me was what ex­actly they’re look­ing for and why. It helped ex­plain a lot of the scuttlebut­t we’ve been hear­ing lately.

EPA

Mr. Belser’s ex­pla­na­tions for the EPA were fairly cut and dry, and there weren’t too many things they were con­cerned with. He did state: all can be found in the Clean Air Act.

Closed course rac­ing ve­hi­cles are ex­empt from the Clean Air Act, say­ing a ve­hi­cle is for off road use only does not make a ve­hi­cle ex­empt as off road or AG is still cov­ered by emis­sions rules. How­ever, the EPA is cur­rently con­cen­trat­ing on emis­sions delete de­vices for on-road ve­hi­cles only. Belser did say that even­tu­ally that di­rec­tive will change and emis­sions delete de­vices for other ve­hi­cles will be un­der the spot­light, when that would hap­pen he did not say.

Ve­hi­cles with pro­duc­tion dates prior to 1965 are ex­empt from the act.

The act ap­plies to over­seas com­pa­nies sell­ing to the US as well.

The EPA does not go after the end users, only the man­u­fac­tur­ers and those sell­ing the parts. Belser noted that this is some­what based on num­bers, mean­ing if you sold only a few then that could ac­tu­ally be for closed course rac­ing ve­hi­cles, which is fine. But if you sold 500, well that’s ob­vi­ously not solely for closed course rac­ing ve­hi­cles and the com­pany would then be sub­ject to fines, etc..

Over­all mod­i­fi­ca­tion is not il­le­gal, but ob­tain­ing a “E.O. num­ber” from the EPA is not some­thing that cur­rently ex­ists. If you’re con­cerned with get­ting in trou­ble for a part you man­u­fac­ture in the fu­ture, get it tested by a third party. Make sure it’s not emit­ting more than the ve­hi­cle is al­lowed to. SEMA Garage can help here. In the end whether the part is in vi­o­la­tion is de­cided by the agent.

CARB

The Cal­i­for­nia Air Re­source Board was a dif­fer­ent story. CARB is go­ing after just about any­one that sells de­vices with­out an Ex­emp­tion Or­der given to them by the state. This cov­ers just about any­thing that im­pacts emis­sions.

Cur­rently, ve­hi­cles orig­i­nally in­tended for on­road use can be turned into closed course rac­ing ve­hi­cles. And any ve­hi­cle with a build date prior to 1976 is ex­empt (diesels prior to 1998 are ex­empt). Oth­ers are ex­empt as well, see CARB’S web­site for more.

CARB rec­om­mends se­ri­al­iz­ing parts that might vi­o­late CA laws. This way if you sold a non E.O. equipped part to some­one out of CA, and the part makes its way into CA, you can prove that you did not in fact sell it in the state.

What an in­spec­tor tells you while you’re be­ing in­ves­ti­gated might not be what ends up hap­pen­ing in the end. The Judge’s rul­ing is the fi­nal word.

Fi­nal Say

All that be­ing said, over the last year I have seen many things hap­pen that go against what was said in this meet­ing. I’ve seen friend’s com­pa­nies get in trou­ble for sell­ing things while an­other down the street was told they were ok to sell. I would as­sume ev­ery­one in the in­dus­try has seen this same thing. I can’t cur­rently say for sure why, but the more sto­ries I hear, more of what I heard in that sem­i­nar makes sense. I think the grey area is go­ing away and we can all move for­ward to­wards the fu­ture. In the end, don’t roll coal, keep the emis­sions de­vices on (the tech­nol­ogy is here, you can get a re­li­able 600 RWHP with a DPF, I prom­ise), and just use com­mon sense.

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