DAVE DENSMORE SPEAKS (COMMENTARY): - WHAT EPA PROPOSES IS UNAMERICAN
I’m sure the Environmental Protection Agency does many wonderful things to protect our natural resources but, like any bureaucracy, it also seems to create projects designed simply to justify its own existence.
A case in point is a proposed regulation hidden within the most recent rules package the EPA submitted to Congress. Simply, if enacted, it would make it illegal to transform a street car into a race car. On the surface, it sounds like a joke, but when you dig deeper, you understand that while it may be silly, it’s no joke.
What it is, is ridiculous and ridiculous on so many levels. .
Forget that it’s messing with an American rite of passage, one that began the first time Henry Ford booted one of his Model Ts off the assembly line on Oct. 1, 1908. Generations of American youngsters have grown up working to refine every part and piece on the automobile.
Also forget that tinkering and tweaking is as American as it gets. It’s a pastime that has led to advances not only in the automobile industry but in every other phase of life, from chemistry to astrophysics to whatever else. Without our innate urge to take things apart and make them better, we never would have achieved the wonders that today are ours.
If enacted, the proposed regulations effectively would eliminate sportsman and hobby racing as we know it, not just in drag racing but in EVERY motor sports discipline.
The real irony, though, the most incredible irony is that if future generations of Americans want to tinker with their vehicles – and, trust me, they will, under the proposed rules their only option for measuring their work against that of others would be to race in mall parking lots, on residential streets or on country lanes.
The NHRA, for one, has worked with law enforcement, automotive parts manufacturers and others for half a century to get racing off the streets and into the more structured and much safer racetrack environment. This regulation would void that body of work.
And one more thing, race cars as a rule are operated much more efficiently than most daily-drivers. If the EPA really wants to make an impact, it seems like it would focus on the hundreds of thousands, maybe millions of cars and trucks that aren’t efficiently operated, many of which pump visible hydrocarbons into the atmosphere. Some of these guys look like they’re spraying for mosquitoes.
The upshot is that there likely are enough people out there purposely destroying the environment to keep everyone at the EPA busy well into the next century. Instead, in the EPA’s eyes, the larger threat apparently is the proliferation of tweaked Toyotas and turbocharged Mustangs.
Perhaps EPA administrator Gina McCarthy’s people simply are trying to create an issue to deflect criticism away from a bureaucracy still under fire for its botched handling of the Gold King Mine cleanup in Colorado.
To refresh everyone’s memory, On Aug. 5, 2015, an EPA crew, despite warnings from those considered familiar with the situation, breached a debris dam and dumped three million gallons of water containing lead and arsenic into the Animas River.
The poisonous sludge ultimately flowed into Utah and New Mexico, creating a disaster that not only affected wildlife, livestock and people living along the river but specifically impacted the entire Navajo Nation, which relies on the Animas for drinking water.
One of the extenuating factors is that five months before the toxic disaster, leaders from the tiny and historic Colorado mining town of Silverton pleaded with EPA officials not to perform tests that would have declared the area a Superfund site. Yet the EPA was intent on ferreting out what it called “widespread soil contamination” in the area even though the town was tested five years before with no problems.
The result? A catastrophe that demonstrates, once more, how out of touch much of the government is with the reality the rest of us confront on a daily basis. One geologist close to the snafu even suggested that the EPA created the mess to give itself another Superfund site on which to work.
In the aftermath, EPA officials refused to answer questions related to that charge as well as queries from Congressmen including Arkansas representative Bruce Westerman who was prompted to say that “working to clean up a mess is different than working to prevent one and the American people need to know if the EPA was negligent in following laws and taking the necessary actions to prevent the spill.”
Nevertheless, the EPA has remained stoic.
“The fact is that our mission is to protect human health and the environment and not stick our heads in the sand and not look,” said the EPA’s Steve Wharton, head of one of the agency’s Superfund response teams.
Okay, that’s cool. Unfortunately, in this instance, it looks more like the mission was to sit in one’s office with one’s head up one’s ass trying to find a way to oppress a group wishing to do nothing more than indulge a hobby with family and friends.
I find that, at the very least, to be decidedly un-American.