< Browse more articles
hrai2 june112020

In the absence of national leadership, individual states are enacting HFC regulations, based on commitments made to the 24-state (plus Puerto Rico) US Climate Alliance. This is important to Canadians because Canadian supply chains often originate in either the USA or Europe, and consistent policy and standards make matters easier to deal with. Manufacturers, distributors and multi-jurisdictional contractors, especially, have an interest in cost-effective and consistent (harmonized) global refrigeration and equipment standards.

Colorado and Virginia last week 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 (Significant New Alternatives Policy) 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.

Uncertainty arose when SNAP rules were partially vacated by the US Court of Appeals DC Circuit, and then fully abandoned by the EPA in 2018. In 2020, both the Senate and the House have proposed bipartisan federal HFC legislation, Senate bill S.2754 and House bill H.R. 5544.

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee recently held a socially distanced “hearing” on the Senate bill which has 34 cosponsors, 17 from each party. H.R. 5544 has been approved by a subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and has 28 co-sponsors, 14 from each party. Despite bi-partisan support, it’s been slow going. If the federal bills become law, states will be less likely to write their own rules, but for the past few years confusion has reigned.

Before Colorado and Virginia took action, fellow members of the US Climate Alliance -- California, Vermont, Washington, and New Jersey -- passed similar new rules. Meanwhile Hawaii, Oregon, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Maine, Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania and New York have all indicated that they will also do so. Hopefully the logjam will clear soon and the path forward will be clear.