WASHINGTON—A major auto aftermarket association is urging its members to oppose a pending regulatory proposal in Illinois to promote the scrappage of older motor vehicles. The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency has a draft regulation to pay motorists for scrapping older cars on the grounds that they are high polluters, said a spokesman for the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA).
``They had meetings in Springfield and Chicago, as sort of a coming-out party,'' he said, adding that SEMA expects the IEPA to issue a formal proposal shortly.
SEMA objects to scrappage programs on several levels, not least because ``they're a ridiculous way to try to reduce pollution,'' the spokesman said. ``The federal EPA itself has said that older cars are not necessarily the biggest polluters.''
Not only will the IEPA draft regulation do nothing to reduce auto pollution, it also ``will allow `smokestack' industries to avoid reducing their own emissions by buying credits generated through destroying these cars,'' SEMA said in its mass e-mailing to members. ``Industrial polluters should not be allowed to continue polluting merely because they are buying and scrapping vehicles.''
On the business level, many of the cars targeted by scrappage programs are classics or collectibles, according to the SEMA spokesman. ``Our companies aren't affected directly by this proposal, but if you're scrapping mid-'60s cars, you're killing a hobby that's our bread and butter,'' he said.
Scrappage programs ``threaten vehicle collectors and enthusiasts with the loss of valuable rare parts for vehicle restoration projects,'' the e-mail stated. ``The (Illinois) regulation also ignores the fact that lower-income car owners cannot afford to purchase new vehicles with the money provided by scrappage programs.''
Instead of scrappage programs, SEMA favors ``repair upgrade'' programs in which motorists voluntarily retrofit older vehicles with new emissions control systems.
``Numerous commercially available products can substantially lower the emissions rates of older `daily driver' vehicles while also offering considerable benefits in terms of performance, driveability and fuel mileage,'' the e-mail message said.
Repair upgrade programs have been introduced successfully in Arizona and San Diego County, Calif., with a statewide program just passed in California, the spokesman said.
In its e-mail, SEMA urged its members to write to IEPA Director Thomas V. Skinner to oppose the scrappage proposal.