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Samantha Slater, Senior Vice President of Government Affairs for the Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI) said last month that she remains hopeful that Congress might pass legislation this year to provide a national framework for an orderly HFC phasedown in the USA.

American developments are important to Canadians because our supply chains often originate in either the USA or Europe, and consistent policy and standards make everything easier for everyone. Manufacturers, distributors, and multi-jurisdictional contractors, especially, have an interest in cost-effective global refrigeration and equipment standards. Such a framework would result in significant economic benefits for American businesses.

For some time it appeared that the USA was proceeding as many countries have, to the ratification of the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol. It has been ratified by 98 countries to date. However, unexpected hiccups have affected the process.

“In the House, Chairman Tonko and Representative Olson introduced the HFC phasedown bill in January, and held a March 12 subcommittee markup in the House Energy & Commerce Committee,” says Slater. “In the Senate, the bill introduced by Senators Kennedy and Carper has great bipartisan support. There are currently efforts underway to reach agreement on changes to the bill based on comments filed during the ‘paper’ hearing held by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee in the spring.”

“The contents of the legislation provide for an orderly phasedown. The EPA had HFC regulations that were in place until the courts partially overturned them,” says Helen Walter-Terrinoni AHRI’s VP Regulatory Affairs. “This created confusion for the entire industry. The Rules were remanded back to EPA, creating a regulatory vacuum and leaving the investments stranded and transitions in limbo.”

As reported earlier in the HRAI eNews, in the absence of national leadership, individual states have been enacting HFC regulations, based on commitments made to the 24-state (plus Puerto Rico) US Climate Alliance. Colorado and Virginia last month took steps to regulate HFCs in their own areas. On May 22, Colorado’s Air Quality Control Commission approved prohibitions on a list of products containing HFCs. It’s the same list from the US EPA SNAP rules 20 and 21. Affected sectors included commercial refrigeration, insulating foams, building chillers, aerosol products, and others. On May 21, Governor Ralph Northam signed a new law requiring Virginia’s Air Pollution Control Board to adopt similar HFC restrictions.

Fellow members of the Alliance, California, Vermont, Washington, and New Jersey have already passed similar new rules. Hawaii, Oregon, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Maine, Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and New York have all indicated that they will also do so.

“The world is transitioning to next-generation technologies,” says Walter-Terrinoni. “The lack of a regulatory framework for the transition in the United States may create challenges for investment decisions here. Companies may choose to build elsewhere where the regulatory landscape is clear and the market is ready.”

A report was recently released by AHRI and its manufacturer's partner, the Alliance for Responsible Atmospheric Policy (ARAP - includes Carrier, Daikin, Danfoss, Emerson, Ingersoll-Rand, Johnson Controls and others) entitled Economic Impacts of US Ratification of the Kigali Amendment. It suggests that ratification would preserve US leadership, adding $5 billion per year to the value of US HVAC exports, and reducing imports by $6.5 billion per year by 2027. It would add 33,000 jobs in short order and this would increase to 150,000. In addition, the reclaimed refrigerant business, would increase sales by $800 million per year and add a further 4,000 jobs.

The export market, to meet the needs of China, India, Latin America, and Africa, is expected to grow by 6% per year over the next decade. Without ratification, the US share of that market, currently 7.2%, could slip to 6.2%. Domestic investments in new technology would enable the US to outperform in the export market, increasing the US global export market share to 9%.

“It’s a strange time we’re living in,” says Slater, “but I’m still hopeful that a bill will get to the President’s desk by the end of the year.”