The Environmental Protection Agency says it is backing off a controversial plan to regulate amateur car racing, but congressional critics aren't taking the EPA's word for it.
After Watchdog.org reported that a proposed agency rule threatened to crash the amateur racing industry, an EPA spokeswoman said greenhouse gas standards for medium- and heavy-duty trucks would be stripped of language that could have effectively banned the sport.
But the EPA insists it will target "companies that don't play by the rules, and that make and sell products that disable pollution controls."
"I'm highly suspicious," said Rep. Barry Loudermilk, R-Georgia. "There is a continuing bombardment of regulations."
In an interview with Watchdog, Loudermilk accused the EPA of "a continual abuse of power. They're out of control."
Loudermilk and members of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee exposed the EPA's failure to conduct a required regulatory impact analysis after officials acknowledged the emissions rule would trigger more than $100 million in compliance costs.
Rep. Lamar Smith, the panel's chairman, said the dust-up "is not yet in the rear-view mirror."
"The EPA's rhetoric implies that it will strive to find any excuse it can to regulate the racing industry," the Texas Republican told Watchdog. "To date, the EPA has failed to explain how regulating amateur race cars would have any meaningful impact on the environment."
Rep. Patrick McHenry, R-North Carolina, introduced a measure to block the EPA from taking any action against amateur racing under the Clean Air Act. The bill has 48 co-sponsors, including Henry Cuellar of Texas, one of four Democrats who signed on.
Three Republican congressmen—House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton of Michigan, Rep. Ed Whitfield of Kentucky and Rep. Richard Hudson of North Carolina—warned EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy in a letter that her agency was swerving beyond congressional intent.
The lawmakers asked McCarthy why the EPA sought to ban the conversion of street vehicles to racecars, and what language in the Clean Air Act justified the prohibition.
EPA spokeswoman Laura Allen said the agency "plans to review and respond to the letter."
Meantime, Loudermilk and his colleagues requested that the House Appropriations Committee defund any EPA efforts to implement new emissions regulations against amateur racing.
This article originally appeared at Watchdog.org.