HVAC News Roundup - August 2017

September 6, 2017 / by Elizabeth Ortlieb

Elizabeth Ortlieb

Thanks for joining our HVAC news roundup for August 2017. A lot has happened in this month, including a U.S. federal court decision on a 2015 EPA SNAP Rule that has disrupted the refrigerant management world.

Let’s get started. 

EPA’s SNAP and HFC Phase Out: At a Crossroads

Federal court vacates part of 2015 EPA SNAP Rule Restricting HFC use and EPA’s SNAP Program are at a crossroads, to say the least. Here’s why:

On August 8, in Mexichem Fluor, Inc., v. EPA, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals vacated part of EPA SNAP Rule 20. This rule made certain high-GWP HFCs unacceptable in several refrigeration and air conditioning end-uses on and after specific dates. For example, per SNAP Rule 20, R404A was unacceptable as of January 1, 2018, in new, remote condensing units.

Mexichem Fluor, Inc., v. EPA found that the EPA does not possess statutory authority under Section 612(c) (i.e., the same section used to phase out CFCs and HCFCs) of the Clean Air Act “to require the replacement of non-ozone-depleting substances.” The majority opinion declares, “We therefore vacate the 2015 Rule to extent it requires manufactures to replace HFCs.”

This case has caused an industry-wide upset. In fact, if you consider who defended SNAP Rule 20, it gets even more interesting.

While we know that Arkema and Mexichem successfully argued against the Rule, consider the players on the other side of the aisle: The Trump administration defended the Obama-era Rule, and two refrigerant manufacturers, Honeywell and Chemours, joined them as intervenors, Bloomberg reports.

Needless to say, the stakes are high.

Just take a look at how the Chemours Company responded to the court decision, in which they state: “The company is currently reviewing the court's ruling and assessing its options which could include an appeal of this ruling.”

With these various stakeholders having such a vested interest in the future of HFCs, it’s probably safe to say this issue is far from over, and an appeal is in the realm of possibilities. What do you think?

Update: On Jan. 27, 2018, the Cooling Post reported that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia denied to hear an appeal of the Mexichem Fluor, Inc., v. EPA decision made earlier this year.

This case vacated the part of SNAP Rule 20 that banned HFCs in certain HVAC/R applications.

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(Prepare and plan ahead now with this chart which includes the latest on the HFC ruling.)

New EPA Refrigerant Regulations Set to Take Effect January 1, 2018?

EPA releases letter indicating plans to revisit some aspects of the update to EPA 608 Last November, the EPA published a Final Rule entitled Protection of Stratospheric Ozone: Update to the Refrigerant Management Requirements under Section 608 of the Clean Air Act, otherwise known as the update to EPA 608.

The rule has staggered compliance dates with some requirements beginning January 1, 2017; others beginning on January 1, 2018, or January 1, 2019. So, new EPA refrigerant regulations are set to go into effect in less than five months*, and include

  • New Recordkeeping Requirement As of 1/1/18, technicians who dispose of mid-sized appliances, appliances with 5 to 50 pounds of refrigerant, must keep records.
  • Sales Restriction Starting on 1/1/18, the sale of non-exempt substitute (e.g., HFCs) refrigerant is restricted to certified technicians.
  • Technician Certification As of 1/1/18, technicians that maintain, service, repair or dispose of appliances containing HFCs must be properly certified with an EPA refrigerant license. 

However, several industry coalitions expressed “concerns regarding the feasibility of meeting the January 1, 2018, compliance dates,” and the EPA responded to those concerns on August 10 in a letter that indicates a plan to propose revisions to the Final Rule … published November 18, 2016, 81 Fed. Reg. 82272.”

Keep in mind that regardless of what happens to the January 1, 2018, some requirements have already taken effect, and you should already be preparing for the January 1, 2019 compliance dates.

Refrigerant Management Across the Globe

Meanwhile, there is a continued international consensus that end-users should limit the emissions from refrigerants with ozone-depleting substances (ODP) and/or high global warming potential (GWP).

The UK Environment Agency (EA) has concerns over non-compliance with refrigerant handling The EA “could receive increased powers of prosecution following concerns of installations and refrigerant purchases by non-F-gas-certified companies,” The Cooling Post explains.

Germany wants stricter measures for European ozone depleting substances regulations The European Commission is currently reviewing its Ozone Depleting Substance Regulation No 1005/2009, and German Environment Agency, Umweltbundesamt (UBA), has “called for a ‘consistent strict ban of ozone depleting substances’ that it says should include the refrigerant 1233zd,” reports RAC Magazine.

Rajiv Gandhi Airport in Hyderabad, India, makes significant stride towards adoption of ozone safe refrigerants The Rajiv Gandhi International Airport in Hyderabad (RGIA), India, is transitioning its 300+ AC units away from ozone-depleting R22. In fact, the airport “has converted more than 80% of its AC units to ozone safe R410 gas compliant AC units,The Passenger Terminal Today reports.

That concludes our HVAC news roundup for August 2017. Thanks for joining us, and be sure to check back next month. In the meantime, you can review July's HVAC News Roundup.

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Important Days

  • Saturday, September 16, World Ozone Day (30th anniversary of the Montreal Protocol), Join the conversation on social media with #OzoneHeroes
  • Monday, September 18–Sunday, September 24, Climate Week NYC


Now with so many updates on the radar, including CARB's new proposed refrigerant rules and the new EPA refrigerant regulations about to go into effect on January 1, 2018, you may wonder if your facilities and workforce are prepared...

Because of this, we've developed a FREE checklist that identifies the top HVAC maintenance practices that you should be following to prepare for any coming compliance changes:  

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(Back by popular demand—Get it now before the compliance deadline!)

Topics: HVAC/R, Industry Insights, Refrigerant Compliance, HVAC News Roundups, Refrigerant Management

Elizabeth Ortlieb

Written by Elizabeth Ortlieb

With an extensive background in public affairs and communications, Elizabeth serves as the Policy & Content Manager at Trakref, where she tracks HVAC/R policy trends and provides updates to multi-level stakeholders. Email the author at eortlieb@trakref.com