Members of the motorsports industry are wondering why the government has adopted a rule virtually eliminating a key constituency – and possibly thousands of jobs – while at the same time developing a nearly trillion-dollar stimulus that supporters say is intended to create and protect employment.

At issue is a new federal regulation of lead that took effect just this month. The policy has virtually shut down the part of the motorsports industry that serves children under 12 who want to ride all-terrain vehicles and motorbikes, because some components of the machines – such as tire valve stems – contain lead.

“You’ve got a lot of kids involved in this,” Don Amador, western representative for the the Blue Ribbon Commission, told WND today. “But ATVs, dirt bikes have batteries in them, components that use lead inside the valve stems on tires, lead in the electronic wiring, lead on battery terminals.”

The lead ban prohibits the sale of such items, including repair parts, virtually shutting down the section of the motorsports industry that teaches a younger generation its intricacies and builds lifelong fans.

TheConsumer Product Safety Commission “has created a monster,” Amador told WND.

Estimates of the impact vary, he said, but “some are saying it could be a $100 million hit in the offroad industry.”

Besides retailers, manufacturers soon will feel the hit, as will other industries such as textiles, which no longer will have a demand for specialized clothing for junior participants, he said.

Right now parents who would like to introduce their children to the sport are “out of luck,” Amador said.

“You can’t go anywhere to buy these,” he said.

So families’ back-country trips are being cancelled, competitive events for youth are being dropped and sanctioning bodies are wondering how to build their schedules.

Amador’s organization sent a letter yesterday to the CPSC‘s acting chariman, Nancy Nord, expressing its objection to the rule, which it says “functionally bans the sale of off-highway vehicles (OHV) designed for use by children ages 12 and under.”

The letter cites special petitions filed by the Motorcycle Industry Council and the Specialty Vehicle Institute of America and asks for immediate action.

“BRC supports the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s (CPSC) effort to minimize the exposure risk of lead in various products used by children,” the letter said. “However, BRC does not support the unintended consequences of othe recent ban … which has resulted in small OHVs being pulled off showroom floors and youth OHV events being cancelled.”

The organization also provides a Web link for consumers to express their opinions to the federal agency.

BRC warned that without a some sort of provision for the industry, there could be “major disruptions to enthusiasts, to the member companies’ businesses, and to the companies’ dealer network of thousands of small, independent businesses, which employ tens of thousands of Americans.”

Missouri state Rep. Tom Self said he’s already written to the federal agency. Through his website he has facilitated 53,000 demands for a change.

He said the safety measure actually could have the additional unintended consequence of creating more dangers for children.

“This issue is far reaching not only financially but also concerning safety. With the suspension of proper sized ATV’s and motorcycles … young riders will be tempted to use improperly sized and built machines which could (but Lord willing won’t) lead to severe injuries,” he said.

The lawmaker said a “waiver” is pending before the CPSC but needs further action.

“We need every available rider, mother, father, grandmother, grandfather, aunt, uncle and any relative, friend neighbor, business or personal contact or any person who is a legal us citizen to get involved,” he said.

The industry explained that under the agency’s interpretation, “engines, brakes, wheels, tires, and suspension parts on these vehicles must be tested and meet the lead standard due to remote concerns over lead exposure to children six years or older.

“While the law provides some exclusions for inaccessible components and also authorizes the CPSC to grant exemptions under certain conditions, to date the CPSC has not done so for products in the off-highway vehicle industry. This situation has resulted in HUGE inventories of products – which present no health risk to children – to be rendered retroactively illegal, and prohibits the future sale of these products because all available exemptions have yet to be clarified,” the statement said.

Americans for Responsible Recreational Access also is involved in the campaign.

A spokesman for the commission told WND the problem is that members of Congress specifically created a ban on situations that would allow “any” absorption of lead, but the commission was trying to create an exemption needed for the industry.

He said representatives of the industry would be permitted to present their arguments as early as March for allowances that would restore availability of the machines to consumers.

WND previously reported when the lead testing rule threatened to put thousands of thrift and consignment stores out of business.

In that case, the CPSC relented, issuing a statement that, “Sellers of used children’s products, such as thrift stores and consignment stores, are not required to certify that those products meet the new lead limits, phthalates standard or new toy standards.”

Thrift and consignment business owners were outraged after Congress passed the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008, or HR 4040, a retroactive rule mandating that all items sold for use by children under 12 must be tested by an independent party for lead and phthalates, which are chemicals used to make plastics more pliable.


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