to Position Papers Listing
Public Comment - EPA Proposed Regulations
13 February 2001
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
National Vehicle and Fuels Emission Laboratory
Ann Arbor, Michigan 48105
Via Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Ladies and Gentlemen:
Motorcycle Riders Foundation appreciates the opportunity
to comment on and participate in discussions surrounding
Docket A-2000-01, Control of Emissions From Nonroad
Large Spark Ignition Engines, Recreational Engines (Marine
and Land-Based), and Highway Motorcycles.
interest is in "highway motorcycles," hereinafter referred
to as "street motorcycles" or "street bikes."
first motorcyclists' rights organization to establish
a full-time legislative advocacy presence in Washington,
the Motorcycle Riders Foundation is the only Washington
voice devoted exclusively to the street rider. MRF established
MRFPAC in the early 1990s to advocate the election of
candidates who would champion the cause of rider safety
and rider freedom. MRF proudly claims state motorcyclists'
rights organizations (SMROs) and the very founders of
the American rider rights movement among its leading
members. While we have but 2,800 members, many of our
members are SMROs and our combined membership exceeds
The Motorcycle Riders Foundation believes strongly that
the EPA should refrain from pursuing rulemaking to establish
more stringent emissions standards for street motorcycles.
Our shared objective of cleaner air is already being
met with new motorcycles certifying far below the 5.0
g/km Hydrocarbon national standard. Rather than saddle
it with new requirements that could devastate small
business, the EPA should commend the motorcycle industry
for its market-based performance in achieving lower
overall emissions output. In our view, even non-attainment
areas would suffer from a more stringent national standard
for street bikes, as the barely perceptible gains in
pollution reduction would not be realized. Finding losses
in performance and personal freedom unacceptable, riders
would rely on machines using older technology , or -
worse - turn to the least efficient and most costly
personal motorized transport available - the automobile.
In short, motorcyclists who would be otherwise inclined
to ride to work would drive instead. In so doing, these
lost riders would make more inefficient use of fuel,
create more gridlock and add to already protracted commuting
time. Shifting the entire nation to a more stringent
standard by following the dubious lead of California
would be an unnecessary, inappropriate action that would
hike costs for all consumers, limit the freedom of individual
motorcyclists, complicate traffic congestion and damage
if not destroy many small businesses in our American
motorcycling community without having an appreciable,
positive impact on clean air.
of the ANPRM and Community Involvement.
We object to the timing of the Advanced Notice of Proposed
Rulemaking (ANPRM), published December 7, 2000, with
a public comment deadline of 5 February 2001, although
we appreciate the communication from the Ann Arbor office
that EPA shall keep the public comment period open beyond
5 February. With a few notable exceptions, the vast
majority of the American motorcycling community remains
unaware to this date of EPA's desire for a more stringent
emissions standard that impacts millions of riders,
dozens of businesses and thousands of employees. We
are particularly concerned that the most fragile element
of our community - small businesses - has not been informed
of the agency's interest in more stringent emissions
standards - standards which many will perceive as a
grave threat to their livelihood.
ANPRM follows two years of technical talks between EPA
and industry. In those talks, however, the topic was
a new standard for off-road motorcycles. Highway motorcycles
were not at issue in the discussions. The off-road issue
is the subject of a consent decree relating to a suit
filed against EPA by the Sierra Club; highway motorcycles
are not addressed in the litigation. Our community needs
the time afforded the off-road community to come to
terms with the full impact of new standards.
Importance of Full Integration of the Motorcycle in
While we recognize that emission standards for street
bikes date back to 1980, the Motorcycle Riders Foundation
believes it is unwise to depart from these standards
now and risk an impact that softens sales, drives riders
from motorcycling and devastates small businesses in
our community. While we have made substantial progress,
the Motorcycle Riders Foundation is still far from achieving
its overreaching, long-term goals:
recognition on the part of the American public that
the motorcycle is a sound, more efficient alternative
to the passenger car as personal motorized transport.
full integration of the motorcycle in transport planning
by local, state and national governments.
declination in our community - from sales to opportunities
for individualization - puts our society that much further
from full integration. Any declination militates against
society benefiting from motorcycles which offer more
efficient transport especially in the commuting scenario,
far greater gas mileage, less road wear and a powerful
antidote to traffic and parking congestion.
the onset of new standards by retaining the 1980 standard
will lead to several benefits. First, already low emissions
reductions (significantly below the 1980 standard) will
continue if not improve as manufacturers to make market-driven
improvements to engine technology. Second, the action
allows federal and state governments to integrate fully
the motorcycle into national transport planning, so
that use and mileage rates increase toward a more optimal
level at which point the contribution of street bikes
to the pollution inventory can be freshly considered.
Third, the action allows time to assess the impact of
higher standards on small businesses -- a vast community
of motorcycle after market producers, small-volume motorcycle
makers and custom shops nationwide. Fourth, the action
provides time to assess the impact of tighter emission
restrictions on the motorcyclist culture, including
California Standard - Inappropriate for the Rest of
Mr. Robert French of your office was kind enough to
call the Motorcycle Riders Foundation, and we appreciate
this outreach effort. While he asserted that the agency
would like to propose a new standard but was not settled
on what that standard might be, observers in our community
with whom we have consulted -those with experience with
EPA and the California Air Resources Board (CARB) -
remain convinced that the ANPRM is a first step toward
nationwide adoption of California's emissions standards.
that California has recently put in place technologically
challenging standards for [large displacement street]
motorcycles in a time frame that we would likely consider
for a possible federal program, we are likely to look
very closely at the pros and cons of harmonizing the
federal program and whether the California standards
are appropriate for a nationwide federal program," the
agency wrote. We believe the California standards are
inappropriate for a national federal program. Frankly,
we question whether California standards are truly necessary
for California. Given the extraordinarily low, less-than-optimal
average annual mileage of motorcycles nationally, the
compressed riding season throughout much of the nation
and the substantial reductions in emissions already
achieved voluntarily by the world's motorcycle manufacturers,
we believe new, more stringent emissions standards are
untimely, inappropriate, entail needless cost and present
a devastating threat to small businesses in our community.
of the Personal Transport.
Wary of motorcyclists' desire to improve the look, sound
and performance of motorcycles through improvements
to exhaust and other systems - a practice it terms "tampering"
- EPA stated it is researching strategies to "mitigate
this problem." Concerned that "standards which result
in the widespread use of catalytic converters will achieve
less benefits than projected due to consumer tampering"
with engine systems, the agency asks comment on "the
magnitude of these consumer practices" and ways to stop
Motorcycle Riders Foundation is sharply critical of
the use of the pejorative "tampering" in connection
with the improvement and individualization of motorcycles.
More than cars which one travels in, motorcycles are
ridden on. Practically worn as much as they are ridden,
the motorcycle is the personal motor vehicle in America,
and most motorcyclists personalize them as a matter
of course. These same motorcyclists question the intent
of government that would block by device or criminalize
by decree the personalizing of a singularly personal
vehicle in exchange for reductions to a contribution
to the pollution inventory that is already miniscule
and barely measurable.
The Impact on Small Business.
Anti-tampering coupled with a tightening of emission regulations
could tear one of the most fragile threads in the motorcycle
industry fabric: thousands of small businesses involved
in the manufacture and sale of aftermarket products, including
custom shops which make repairs and improvements to motorcycles.
also seeks to control the smallest of motorcycle makers.
EPA questions the appropriateness of the current federal
definition of small business as applied to small-volume
bike makers, a strong suggestion of the agency's interest
in applying the new, higher standard to all motorcycle
makers regardless of the small number of bikes produced.
Again, for the sake of a barely perceptible reduction
in overall emissions inventory, we would deem such action
frivolous and radically anti-small business.
Regulation and Optimal Use.
The ubiquitous lawnmower that EPA regulates is already
fully integrated into our society. Families living in
most suburban homes sited on a lot of any size already
own and operate them. It is at full, optimal use. The
motorcycle is not - and it should be, as it is a safe,
sound, more efficient transport alternative to passenger
cars. Motorcycles ease traffic congestion, provide less
wear to roads, enjoy far greater gas mileage and solve
motorcycle is also infinitely more efficient as a commuting
vehicle. The passenger car in America (including light
truck and SUV) transports an average of 1.1 persons
to and from work in the commuting scenario. The motorcycle
transports 1.0 persons to and from work and does so
with far greater fuel efficiency and far fewer occasions
for inefficient, stop-and-go gridlock.
the Motorcycle Riders Foundation advances motorcycling
as a safe, sound and efficient transportation alternative
to cars, full integration - or what we might term "optimal
use" - has not yet been achieved. Thus, motorcycles
cover a tiny fraction of the miles accumulated by passenger
1997, cars, light trucks and SUVs accumulated 2.4 trillion
vehicle miles traveled. Of the 5.1 million highway motorcycles
operating in 1998, the Motorcycle Industry Council estimates,
the average bike clocked just 2,613 miles that year.
In short, motorcyclists rode just .55% of the miles
driven by cars, light trucks and SUVs.
the contribution to pollution by street motorcycles
is a tiny fraction of one percent. During one stage
of the regulatory proceedings that led to California's
stricter emission standards, the California Air Resources
Board estimated that the average emission level generated
by in-use highway motorcycles was .96 grams of hydrocarbons
per mile, a level we might question. Nevertheless, expressed
as a function of the number of motorcycles registered
at the time of that debate, street bikes emitted six
one-thousandths of one percent of the emissions generated
by all on-road motor vehicles.
have serious doubts that reducing this already miniscule
contribution to the emissions inventory is worth the
steep price our community must pay in new regulations
that hamper performance, hike prices, threaten small
business, chill the burgeoning motorcycle after-market,
all but eliminate custom shops and limit if not eliminate
riders' freedom to customize our machines.
Converters, Performance and Personal Safety Concerns.
The Motorcycle Riders Foundation has profound concerns
about catalytic converters (or "cats") and related systems.
The emphasis on this particular technology in the ANPRM
is troubling, especially in light of engine technology
advances. Based on a venerated 1933 engine design, the
2001 Ural, for example, meets current California emissions
standards without a catalytic converter. We would strenuously
oppose any effort by EPA or any agency of government
to elevate process over performance.
are concerned that the addition of catalytic converters
and attendant systems to most or all street motorcycles
might increase the likelihood of personal injury. A
crawl-speed minor spill on a gravel driveway which would
do nothing more than bruise egos could turn serious
if the rider's leg comes in contact with a "cat." At
800 degrees, the device would burn through to the bone.
are critical of the lackluster performance of motorcycles
equipped with the devices. Imposition of "more stringent"
standards could result in motorcyclists voting with
their feet - and refusing to buy new machines.
are particularly concerned that small-displacement motorcycles
- the machine of choice for novice riders - tend to
suffer more performance problems with more stringent
emission control systems. Thus, a more stringent standard
could inadvertently have a profound effect on rider
safety, particularly novices, the most vulnerable group
Likelihood of More Pollution with "Cat"-equipped Motorcycles.
In Europe, the average journey length for an automobile
is 20 kilometers. At that point, a cat is up to operating
temperature (a nominal 800 degrees Fahrenheit). The
average journey length for a bike in Europe is far less.
With a cat operating at colder temperatures, the result
is more harmful emissions, not fewer.
there are no estimates available on average journey
length for motorcycles in the U.S., we believe motorcycle
use in Europe is greater than in America, because nations
there, sometimes inadvertently, have taken actions which
have resulted in greater integration of the motorcycle
in transport planning. For example, some governments
have encouraged motorcycle use as a connector to other
transportation modes (e.g., train stations, airports)
by such innovations as motorcycle-only parking spaces
that offer bikes protection and security. Convinced
that motorcycles sharply reduce traffic congestion,
London is making great strides in creating inner-city
parking exclusively for bikes; city fathers are also
considering exempting motorcycles from an inner-city
access toll designed to keep cars from clogging city
streets. Some national planning in Europe undertaken
to reduce aggressive driving (e.g., "traffic calming"
designs in Belgium) has advanced motorcycle safety which
prompts more people to ride. Thus, while it is by no
means uniformly motorcycle-friendly, Europe is far closer
than the United States in taking steps that lead to
full, optimal use of the motorcycle.
motorcycling, we see a mode of transportation that should
be favored by government and an engaged, committed community
whose growth should be encouraged by government. Restrictions
by government that disfavor the mode and cripple growth
of the community render optimal use and full integration
of the motorcycle an impossibility rather than a necessity.
Regulations and Their Impact on Culture.
As previously stated, we believe the motorcycle is the
ideal personal motorized vehicle, and, while no data
are available, we would not be surprised to find that
the vast majority of motorcycle owners seeks to personalize
this most personal of vehicles, particularly owners
of cruisers and sport-bikes. Indeed, the protection
of "modified motorcycles" gave rise to Modified Motorcycle
Associations which formed an important element in the
advent of the motorcyclists' rights movement, and culture,
addressed by the ANPRM are what could be considered
icons of the American motorcycle culture - show bikes
- expensive, individualized motorcycles transformed
by owners or, at their direction, custom shops, bikes
which rarely see anything resembling normal use.
should not dismiss individualization of the motorcycle
as "a hobby" but recognize it as a freedom treasured
by the motorcyclist culture in America and embraced
by millions of Americans. Certainly, it meets the first
test of "culture" in that it is passed from one generation
to the next. Needlessly tighter emissions restrictions
coupled with the pejorative term of "anti-tampering
measures" strike at the core of this culture.
Reclassification of Motorcycles as "Light-Duty" or in
a Separate Class.
The same day the American road was opened to motorcars,
it was opened to motorcycles. When American motorists
drove their first Ford,™ American riders rode their
first Harley-Davidson.™ Motorcycles belong on the American
road with a status at least equivalent to that granted
automobiles. Accordingly, the Motorcycle Riders Foundation
would vigorously oppose any change to the status of
motorcycles anywhere in the Code of Federal Regulations.
Need for Congressional Review.
The ANPRM is a "major rule" as defined in 5 U.S.C. 804,
because it is likely to have an impact on the economy
of $100 million in value and would impose a major increase
in costs or prices for consumers and individual industries.
Accordingly, it will require review by the Congress
and the Comptroller General of the United States.
the Regulatory Flexibility Act is germane, as a more
restrictive emissions standard will have a devastating
impact on after-market makers, distributors and a vast
array of custom shops and swap meet organizers nationwide.
In our view, a radical change to these standards will
drive a number of small-volume bike manufacturers to
the edge of failure at a time when those businesses
are struggling and the economy is slowing. Particularly
threatened are the smallest of businesses in the motorcycling
community - custom shops - a cottage industry where
many if not most owners of cruisers and other motorcycle
types take their machines for individualization and
other improvements. All of these small business entities
will be adversely affected by this proposed rule. We
also note that swap meet organizers and custom shops
were not listed in the ANPRM as small businesses likely
to be impacted.
the owners of most custom shops are members of our co-partner
associations - State Motorcyclists' Rights Organizations
nationwide - and because these and other small business
entities in our community are not represented by a national
organization, we request that the Motorcycle Riders
Foundation be named to the Small Business Advocacy Review
Panel you may convene.
we appreciate the invitation to comment on the ANPRM
and the outreach demonstrated by your office. We look
forward to discussing this issue with you, the Small
Business Advocacy Review Panel, and the United States
Thomas C. Wyld
Vice President, Government Relations
Motorcycle Riders Foundation
President George W. Bush
The Honorable Christine Todd Whitman, Administrator of
U.S. Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell
U.S. Senator Robert C. Smith
U.S. Representative Don Young
U.S. Representative Thomas Petri
U.S. Representative James Sensenbrenner, Jr.
U.S. Representative Jerry F. Costello
U.S. Representative Gary Condit
U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr.
U.S. Representative James Barcia
U.S. Representative Karen Thurman