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HFC Regulations & Phase Down Legislation in the HVAC Industry 

article Published on 2019-07-01

Last month, members of the Heating Air-conditioning & Refrigeration Distributors International (HARDI) descended on Washington, D.C. to express their opinions and interests on HFC regulations and the ever-present concern of HFC phase-down.
Leading HVAC distributors and members of HARDI distributed a handout to elected officials and staffers at the meeting that summarized the matter of HFC regulations in a single sentence:

"The HVACR industry needs Congress to pass HFC phase-down authorizing legislation in order for the industry to move on to new refrigerants."

Alex Ayers, director of government affairs at HARDI, said that time and time again, businesses are asking government for regulation.

Herein lies the problem. Consensus seems to be that the most sensible approach to HFC phase-down would be one on the national level directed by the President and Congress. This scenario is not happening. Instead, each state is left to create its own laws and requirements regarding refrigerants and equipment, with many states choosing to do nothing at all, while many others, such as those with governors in the US Climate Alliance are formalizing policy through legislation. This has begun to create avoidable complexity for those in the HVACR industry.

At the present, over 20 governors are progressing on their own legislation and/or have joined the U.S. Climate Alliance. In what seems to be a patchwork approach, a little stitching is pulling a few of the pieces together.

Where to Next?

It's plain to see the current administration isn't going to jump through hoops to make any progress on the HFC phase-down legislation. This has left some agencies related to the HVAC industry, including AHRI, HARDI, ACCA and others, essentially taking matters into their own hands. The manufacturers, contractors and distributors in the HVACR industry, are working towards the goal of presenting a unified message and solution. Meanwhile, the collective group navigates what is expected to be a potentially treacherous state-wise legislative path toward HFC phase-down.

Samantha Slater, VP of government affairs for AHRI, said that following meetings with the EPA in 2018 affected parties saw that it was unlikely the EPA would submit the Kigali amendment to the Montreal Protocol to Congress for ratification to help steer HFC phasedown legislation forward.

In the end, the intra-industry alliance has come to the conclusion that it may be best to avoid the term "climate bill," and instead use the wording "a jobs bill" so that it places the emphasis on economic security to attract more political interest. The one-line description of the jobs bill would reportedly be, "An innovation-based approach for a necessary technology transition."

Slater and Helen Walter-Terrinoni, VP of regulatory affairs at AHRI, agreed the essential goals for triangulating legislative wording that accomplishes just enough but hopefully won't ruffle too many feathers were:

  • Avoid allowing the EPA to regulate greenhouse gases any more that it already does.
  • Avoid ratifying any Obama-era climate change international treaty (for example, Kigali).
  • Avoid drafting any new Trump administration climate policy.

A single, coherent HFC phase-down is what everyone involved in the HVACR industry wants most. AHRI believes hope is not yet lost that this new "jobs bill" could cross the finish line in late 2019 or early 2020 to become law.

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