The Lead Ban -- It Ain't Over


One of the biggest threats to OHV recreation in the past decade is the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA), better known as the “lead ban.” When the CPSIA went into effect, it made the sale of OHVs for use by kids illegal; and the availability of kid’s model motorcycles and ATVs was crushed. Even though the lead in metal parts of the vehicles do not pose a health hazard to youth riders, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has interpreted the CPSIA to not provide it with the flexibility it needs to grant an exclusion from the lead content limits contained in the act.

After months of wrangling and a seemingly endless standoff between Congress and the CPSC, there appeared to be a temporary solution when the CPSC agreed not to enforce the rule, and called a stay. Unfortunately, the solution was only temporary and still left manufacturers vulnerable to overzealous state’s attorney generals, who still have the authority to enforce the law.

In December, Congress passed an appropriations bill that contained a clause instructing the CPSC to come up with recommendations that would fix the CPSIA so the act would protect our kids from legitimate exposure to lead, but would not have the unintended consequences of destroying entire industries where lead exposure from their products is not a legitimate concern.

On Jan. 15, the CPSC sent its consensus report to Congress and, according to industry spokesmen, the recommendations in the report could pave the way for Congress to relax requirements for certain industries and once again allow the sale of youth model OHVs.

“We are encouraged that the consensus report of all five commissioners specifically mentions ATVs and dirtbikes, recognizing the dangers to riders caused by the current ban on youth motorcycles and ATVs,” said Paul Vitrano, MIC general counsel.

In addition to the consensus report, the MIC is encouraged that CPSC chairwoman Inez Tenenbaum also called on Congress to create a new “functional purpose” exclusion to the lead content limits. This amendment would permit the commission to grant exclusions for youth ATVs and motorcycles since lead in many accessible components is necessary for their functional purpose, contact with those components is infrequent, and the elimination of lead is impracticable or impossible based on available scientific or technical information.

“It is clear that the CPSC strongly believes that the ban on youth model ATVs and motorcycles needs to end,” Vitrano added. “MIC calls on Congress to draft legislation as soon as possible to either grant a categorical exemption for these products, as provided by H.R. 1587, a pending bill with 55 bipartisan co-sponsors, or to give the CPSC the flexibility to do so.” (Visit the MIC Business Center this weekend for more information.)

That’s where the OHV community will need to get involved with a massive grassroots campaign. The recommendations in the report are just that, and without action by Congress, the availability of youth model OHVs will not change. In the very near future you will be receiving information from a number of national OHV organizations about how you and your organizations can help stop the ban. The time to act is coming very soon.

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