CPSC says ‘no’ hours after a Washington rally seeks relief from ‘lead ban’ hurting kids’ powersports

by Jeff on April 1, 2009

lead1Six-year-old Chase Yentzer addresses a crowd flanked by his dad (left), and AMA VP of Government Relations, Ed Moreland (right), at a rally held Wednesday at the Capitol in Washington. (Photo courtesy AMA)

News delivered to the powersports industry by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) at the end of April 1 might have been seen by some as a cruel joke, if it was not true.

According to reports, CPSC staffers stated late in the day that they would recommend denial of requests to exempt motorcycles and ATVs marketed to kids under 12 affected by a “lead ban” imposed by the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA).

These products were called off the market Feb. 10 because they may have higher than allowed lead levels in the brake and clutch levers, the valve stems on tires, the battery and other parts.

The commission typically adopts such recommendations from the CPSC staff.

The news came later on the same day in which powersports enthusiasts, dealers, industry representatives and other affected groups had staged a hope-filled “Amend the CPSIA” rally in the Washington Capitol Building.

The rally had been staged in the Visitors’ Center by an estimated 200-plus protesters, speakers and attendees.

At deadline Wednesday, a representative from the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) said comment would be withheld until Thursday.

But while powersports industry representatives had previously expressed cynicism for CPSC coming through for them, surely the news still came as unwelcome after the otherwise optimistic rally.

The crowd that gathered at the rally had listened to appeals by federal lawmakers, powersports industry watchdogs and others, all urging CPSC to correct the unintended consequences of the CPSIA.

Although there were no CPSC commissioners at the rally, it is believed that some CPSC staff may have been. It is unknown whether the meeting affected staffers’ decisions later in the day or not.

Others who came to offer support included representatives from other affected sectors, including the book and the clothing industry.

Because of higher than allowable potential lead content in certain items kids could get their hands – and mouths – on, these sectors in addition to kids powersports, have likewise been adversely impacted.

The protesters Wednesday added their voices to many more, who for the past two months have spoken against, and published written and video condemnations of the law, calling it a “debacle.”

But of all the speakers at the rally, some said perhaps the best picture of the problems the law has created for young motorcycle and ATV riders came from an AMA member who had to stand on a chair to be seen above the podium.

“My name is Chase Yentzer, and I’m 6 years old. I ride dirtbikes with my family. I race dirtbikes. Please give me my dirtbike back. I promise not to eat it,” he said, to enthusiastic applause.

Ed Moreland, the AMA’s vice president of government relations, who also attended the rally (see photo) had initially expressed optimism at the large showing of support.

“Seeing so many motorcyclists and ATVers coming together to fight for their right to enjoy their favorite motorsports with their families really is heartwarming,” Moreland said. “With the CPSC’s vote on an exclusion expected soon, I hope the message is coming through loud and clear that the unintended consequences of the CPSIA should be fixed – and soon – for riders, kids, parents, dealers and the entire industry.”

Moreland could not have known that an essential answer of “no” would be so swiftly forthcoming.

While the CPSC staff recommendations are not final, they were anything but what the rally attendees had wanted to hear.

And how they roll with this latest punch remains to be seen.

For more information about the gathering, visit the rally’s Web site at www.amendthecpsia.com.

{ 0 comments… add one now }

Leave a Comment

You can use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>