CPSC staff recommends against exempting children’s dirt bikes and ATVs from strict anti-lead law


The reason the lead ban, and the reason it’s still in place for youth ATV and Motorcycles has some clarification.  I really hope we can all (I know I’ve asked before) get behind the new bills and urge all of our local government officials to support these new bills so we can stop the madness.  It has gone on long enough.

Here a little video the AMA put together — I like it and wanted to share.

The latest from the AMA — I know it’s long, but it’s worth the read:

April 2, 2009


Contact: Pete terHorst
Phone: (877) 877-8969
E-mail: peter.terhorst@sympoint.com

CPSC staff recommends against exempting children’s dirt bikes and ATVs from strict anti-lead law

PICKERINGTON, Ohio — The staff of the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is recommending that the agency refuse to grant an exemption for youth-model off-road motorcycles and all-terrain vehicles (ATV) from a new anti-lead law, the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) reports.

The law, the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) that took effect in February, has stopped the sale of dirt bikes and ATVs for children 12 or under. The law was meant to protect children from dangerous levels of lead in toys, but it was written so broadly that it also governs such things as children’s books, clothes, motorcycles and ATVs.

Under the CPSIA, all youth products containing lead must have less than 600 parts per million by weight. The CPSC has interpreted the law to apply to various components of youth-sized off-highway vehicles (OHV) including the engine, brakes, suspension, battery and other mechanical parts. Even though the lead levels in these parts are small, they are still above the minimum threshold.

The CPSC staff admits that the risk of exposure to lead from OHVs is relatively low. But the staff told the commissioners that the law is written so strictly that no lead absorption into the body is allowed. As a result, motorcycles and ATVs shouldn’t be exempt from the law.

In light of this new recommendation, Ed Moreland, AMA vice president of government relations, is urging all motorcyclists and ATV riders to contact their U.S. Senate and House members. Moreland wants riders to ask their lawmakers to support letters being circulated on Capitol Hill that ask the CPSC to grant exemptions from the lead law for kids’ dirt bikes and ATVs.

“The CPSC is expected to vote on the staff recommendation soon,” Moreland said, “so motorcyclists and ATV riders need to contact their federal lawmakers now.”

Moreland added that riders should also tell Congress to support two bills aimed at righting this oversight: H.R. 1587 and S. 608.

The easiest way to take action is by visiting American Motorcyclist: The Official Site of the American Motorcyclist Association, clicking on the “Rights” section and then “Issues and Legislation.” AMA members will also find a card in the May issue of American Motorcyclist addressed to the CPSC that they can mail.

Interested parties can also sign up in the “Rights” section to get e-mail Action Alerts to keep abreast of issues threatening motorcycling and ATV riding, and to take action.

Some more important info….. I know, some of it will make you shake your head.
There’s been a change in tactics in the fight to lift the youth bike ban. Our industry’s first attempts at relief from the CPSIA were directed at the CPSC, hoping that the committee’s interpretation of the “Lead Law” would grant us an exemption on the mere basis of common sense. But unfortunately, it’s just not that simple.

In case you’re wondering, no, the CPSC does not think that a child will get lead poisoning from eating a dirt bike. Nor are they penting their fingers in an evil plot to crucify the powersports industry using the CPSIA as their secret weapon. So what’s the problem?

Initially, we were outraged at the CPSC’s claim that their hands are tied as far as granting relief to our industry. Members of congress themselves were writing letters to the CPSC telling them that they can and should grant an exclusion to avoid needlessly damaging the economy. But in dissecting the law, the CPSC kept running into dead ends that would not allow them the power to grant exclusions. In short, they’re stuck dealing with a poorly written law.

Michigan Congressman John Dingell wrote a letter to the CPSC, basically asking Acting Chairman Nancy Nord to explain what the problems are with the new law. Dingell asked a list of questions, one of which was “…Does CPSC believe that [youth motorcycles] present a risk to children for the absorption of lead?”

Nord was surprisingly supportive of the OHV industry in her response. Her letter read: “The possibility that children will suffer significant lead exposures from these classes of vehicles appears to be remote at best.” She went on to say (in an underlined sentence), “A child using an adult ATV as a substitute would face a far graver and more immediate risk than that of the possible lead exposure from the youth ATVs.”

Following are the CPSC’s list of potential solutions:

  • postponing the deadline for sales (not manufacture) of products above the limits;
  • lowering the age limit for children’s products;
  • exempting some or all children’s products that are not kept in the house, such as bicycles and ATVs;
  • giving the CPSC greater discretion to exclude products that pose a negligible risk;

Nord went on to explain how “severely overstretched” the agency staff is as they have not been given the finances they were promised, called the deadlines within the new lead law “impractical for our staff to meet,” and stating (again underlined) that “the scope of products covered by the new regulation and the amount of inventory implicated went well beyond what many have contemplated.”

Nord even used our industry as an example, saying “The Motorcycle Industry Council reported that the new lead rules would result in an annual impact of $1 billion on their industry.”

So rest assured: the CPSC is listening. They understand what our industry is going through and wants to resolve this problem.

“The CPSC knows that if they make an exemption right now, it’ll be overturned in court almost immediately,” Sean Hilbert, President of Cobra Motorcycles said, “If they don’t have a complete slam dunk, it’s going to be a complete waste of their time and energy and resources to put an exemption in place when they know that all their attorneys and half their staff are going to be tied up for the next few months in court if they do this, and I don’t blame them. It’s a very adversarial climate out there and they really do need legislative help on this.”

As the president of a company that produces nothing but youth OHVs, Hilbert has been on the case since day one, but unlike the MIC and AMA, he didn’t bother seeking an exemption from the CPSC, simply because he saw it as barking up the wrong tree. The CPSC’s implementation is not the problem – the lead law itself the problem. And in case you’re wondering, we have our very own California Congressmen to thank for that.

Representative Henry Waxman and Senator Barbara Boxer are the two who wrote the lead regulation of the CPSIA. Boxer can’t even be troubled to respond to those who suffer in the disastrous wake of her poorly thought-out law. In fact, Malcolm Smith himself received a letter back from the California Senator thanking him for voicing his concerns about the budget crisis.

So what’s the new plan of attack?

It’s obvious at this point that we need legislative relief. The law needs to be amended by Congress before anything can happen. That’s what Hilbert and plenty of other industry figures are currently doing in D.C.

“We’re working extremely hard with Congress right now,” Hilbert said. “There’s a small group of us that have headed to Washington the last couple of weeks and [are] working with Paul Vitrano at the MIC and Ed Moreland at the AMA.

“We’re asking for Congress to completely exclude powersports products from the law, entirely. I think it’s Cobra’s best bet and quite honestly the best bet for everybody to go after that angle.”

Currently, there are two bills on the hill, one from the House (H.R. 1587) and one from the Senate (S. 608), both of which aim at lifting the ban. H.R. 1587, drafted by Congressmen Rehberg, Burgess, Pomeroy and Simpson would exempt OHVs from the lead law, and S. 608 would amend the age limit, changing the lead law to only affect OHVs for children under 7 (as opposed to 12).

There is currently a rally going on in Washington D.C. today (not an April Fool’s joke) including more than just powersports industry supporters, but members of many other industries that have been affected by the CPSIA, including makers of toys, clothing, books and bicycles.

“My favorite ones are children’s medical devices,” Hilbert said with a laugh. “There are [leg] braces for kids with Polio that have to be pulled off the market because they can’t meet the letter of the law. It’s highly ridiculous at some levels.”

With any luck, either or both of the laws currently on the floor will pass and grant relief to all those who need it, and not just so they can resume sales, but so they can eliminate the cost of complying with the law.

Cobra Motorcycles has taken a much different approach to the situation since, as a small American-made motorcycle company, they are very different from the “Big 5” manufacturers. Cobra actually never stopped selling its youth OHVs.

“One of the things that is a bit different from being a large manufacturer, I think, is that they’re held to slightly different standards than a small business,” Hilbert said.

“We’ve had to put breaks into our production plan as we institute the fixes that we’ve needed to put in place,” Hilbert explained. “There are some clarifications for small businesses on the CPSC website, and one of our attorneys said, ‘Hey, this is a green light for you guys.’ One of the commissioners makes a statement and says ‘We’re not here to put any small business out of business. We just want you to aggressively pursue the law and comply immediately if you find something wrong.’”

In this “aggressive pursuit” of the law, Cobra has still spent tens of thousands of dollars in testing, re-engineering components, and fighting to change the CPSIA. But Hilbert is keeping a cool head about it, and remains hopeful that we’re on the home stretch.

“We’re trying not to play the blame game,” Hilbert said. “One thing I’ve learned is that if there’s a way to do this without making anybody look bad, that’s the perfect way to do it. We’re looking for a legislative fix that will take the heat off both Congress and the CPSC. And really, I think [a change in legislation] is the only way. There’s enough political pressure of small businesses in big trouble because of this thing that I think there’s going to be enough support to see something through.”

Help Support the Cause

Visit www.StopTheBanNow.com for several ways to contact Congress and urge them to support the bills.

Go to AmendtheCPSIA.com for live feed and continued updates from the Amend the CPSIA rally going on in Washington D.C. today.

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