SNAP Rules Struck Down, But States Step Up

April 25, 2019 / by Ted Atwood & Jennifer Brosius

First SNAP Rule 20, Now SNAP Rule 21

As you may recall, we took a close look at SNAP Rule 20 back in November, and how the Mexichem Fluor, Inc., v. EPA decision struck it down, allowing the use of HFC’s previously considered unacceptable.

Why?

In the decision now known as Mexichem I, the D.C. Circuit held that although the EPA has authority to prevent manufacturers of ozone-depleting substances (ODS) from replacing those substances with HFCs, they do not have authority to require manufacturers to replace HFCs already in use as substitutes.


What Now?

This month, the D.C. Circuit released the decision striking down SNAP Rule 21 as well. It is an additional list of acceptable and unacceptable substances, and due to its similarity to Rule 20 it may be struck down without further litigation. 

It’s not a surprise, but it is a disappointing step further back in efforts to regulate greenhouse gases. The lack of one federal plan means that states are leading the effort to control refrigerant leaks, allowable substitutes, and equipment.  As the federal government shifts the burden of managing these gasses to the states, we now have a dual challenge;  1) limits on where gasses can be stored, used and applied, and  2) equipment manufacturers are now going to have to manage inventory by state/region so that equipment that is allowed in one state and may be obsolete in another does not get sold by mistake. This challenge is compounded when you consider that cross-state transactions could lead to a huge black market. 

Imagine this scenario: 

Nevada continues to allow HFC equipment sales, but California does not. If a contractor travels to Nevada, buys equipment and then installs it in California, who will be responsible for verifying the equipment meets local codes in California?

Beginning in 2009 equipment and gas manufacturers, industry experts, and employers were all invited to join the discussion and begin to plan for the change from HFCs to something new. They chose HFOs and natural refrigerants and in 2014 started to make huge investments with R&D in new equipment that could deliver affordable and functional cooling equipment for food, people, and manufacturing.  

Recently The Chemours Company invested in a a huge new plant in Texas to make these new refrigerants so they could continue to lead the world in technology and supply. Ironically most of that production will be exported to countries that are leading the advancement in managing carbon. 

USA based businesses that sell globally will have to invest in the new low carbon tech to keep pace with their Chinese, Indian and European counterparts, who are investing and installing the new technology in countries that we refer to as “emerging’’. The states that step up will get the new technology. States that don’t will get obsolete/old generation equipment that will be of a lower tech level than equipment sold in places like India. 

As the federal government shifts to avoid their responsibility to manage carbon emissions, they give up leadership on the topic, and in turn the right to have a say in the outcome.  


The Irony Continues

The time invested by the states on this topic is outpacing the time invested by the feds. So there is now more awareness on the topic because of the silence and abstinence at the Federal EPA. The transition away from harmful HFCs will continue, states will lead, and private companies will invest. Over time, maybe a little slower than needed, the transition will take place to replace harmful global warming gasses with less harmful gasses.


Options in life: you can either be in the tent screaming, out or out of the tent screaming in.  If you’re in the tent, you get a say in how things get done. If you’re out, then...well...you’re out.


The States are Stepping Up

California, New York, Washington State, Maryland, and Connecticut have now taken solid steps in placing their own restrictions. 

California

  • The California Air Resources Board (CARB) passed the California Cooling Act (SB 1013) doing the work of SNAP rules 20 and 21, adding chillers, residential refrigerator-freezers, and certain varieties of foam, and aerosol propellants. 

New York

  • They plan to adopt regulations phasing out HFCs in certain applications by the end of 2019. 

Washington State

  • The House passed HB 1112, a bill requiring reduction in the use of HFC’s, and it appears to be successfully moving through the Senate. Update!

Maryland

  • As a result of passing the Gas Emissions Reduction Act of 2016, they are currently developing their own set of rules with the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 25% from 2006 levels by 2020, and 40% from 2006 levels by 2030. 

Connecticut

  • Since the passage of SB 7 in 2018 requiring the preparation of a Comprehensive Energy Strategy, the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environment has been working to create regulations that phase out HFCs, using California’s CARB regulations as a guide.

In December 2018 Massachusetts published their own Comprehensive Energy Plan, and New Jersey has recently announced they are considering jumping on the bandwagon as well. In other words, the fight isn’t over, and new developments are happening all the time. 


How Will You Keep Up?

Trakref can help:

  • We will answer the phone – a real live person at the other end of the line to listen to your HVAC/R challenges and offer useful suggestions and up-to-date information.
  • We take the risk out of managing the patchwork of regulations for you. You can be confident that when you use trakref, meeting the ever-shifting compliance requirements is within reach.
  • We protect your workforce from making mistakes by tracking inventory and materials origins.

 

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Topics: Announcements, Facilities Management, HVAC/R, Industry Insights, HVAC News Roundups, Refrigerant Management, compliance, CARB, climate change, refrigerants, private governance, vanderbilt university, Regulation, SNAP