The Obama administration on Tuesday admitted to causing confusion by trying to regulate emissions from race cars, and has formally withdrawn its proposed rule for the motorsport industry.
The decision was included in new fuel efficiency rules for big-rig trucks that the Environmental Protection Agency finalized on Tuesday as part of President Obama's broad climate change agenda.
"The proposed language was not intended to represent a change in the law or in EPA's policies or practices towards dedicated competition vehicles," EPA said in the final truck rule. "Since our attempt to clarify led to confusion, EPA has decided to eliminate the proposed language from the final rule."
The elimination of the rule is a big victory for the racing industry, which has been fighting the measure for months, making it into an issue that Republican lawmakers have latched onto as yet another example of job-killing government overreach.
The lead trade association in the fight, the Specialty Equipment Market Association, said earlier this month that even with the change, there is still a great degree of uncertainty for the industry. The group now wants Congress to pass a permanent fix that would bar the EPA from enacting regulations on the industry in the future.
The EPA said it would continue to consult with the racing industry before moving ahead with any rules.
"EPA will continue to engage with the racing industry and others in its support for racing, while maintaining the agency's focus where it has always been: reducing pollution from the cars and trucks that travel along America's roadways and through our neighborhoods," Tuesday's final truck rule said.
EPA explained that it never meant to be seen as placing a ban, or restrictions, on motorsport racing through its emissions proposal, but was only looking to target bad actors that disable emission controls that violate the Clean Air Act.
"EPA supports motorsports and its contributions to the American economy and communities all across the country," the rule said. "EPA's focus is not (nor has it ever been) on vehicles built or used exclusively for racing, but on companies that violate the rules by making and selling products that disable pollution controls on motor vehicles used on public roads."
"These unlawful defeat devices lead to harmful pollution and adverse health effects," the agency said. Under the Clear Air Act, it is illegal to disable a vehicle's emission control devices, such as the catalytic converter, if the vehicle is to be used on the street and public roads.