America at Work: Legislative Update
This past month there has been some more movement on the state-by-state effort to fill the gaps in greenhouse gas regulation left by rollbacks of SNAP Rules 20 & 21. Here is a brief rundown of what’s new:
Monday Governor Steve Bullock announced that Montana will be the 25th member of the U.S. Climate Alliance. In his announcement, he included the roll-out of an executive order on climate change. This executive order will create a council of stakeholders, with members from the energy and research sector, local governments, and environmental groups:
“The council will take a hard look at the challenges and opportunities of achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions, including an interim goal to create carbon neutrality for our electrical sector by no later than 2035.”
We’ll keep an eye on how refrigerant management will fit into the plan as it develops.
On Sunday, Representative Debra Heffernan, Senator Nicole Poore, and Senator Stephanie Hansen introduced HCR 60. It supports Governor John Carney’s directive to the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control to propose regulations by March 30, 2020 to eliminate HFCs in the state of Delaware. Referencing the Montreal Protocol and Kigali Amendment, the resolution acknowledges HFCs’ contribution to global warming. Senator Poore framed this move as a collaboration with the increasing number of states passing similar resolutions and legislation. “As a small state, we can’t reverse climate change alone. But we are eager to join with our neighbors to take a collective approach to improving our air quality and reversing sea level rise.”
It’s being framed as one of the most aggressive climate policies in the world, requiring net zero emissions for all sectors of the state’s economy by mid-century. The stated purpose of the bill is to “adopt measures to put the state on a path to reduce statewide greenhouse gas emissions by eighty-five percent by 2050 and net zero emissions in all sectors of the economy.” The latest reports have focused on fossil fuel emissions, but refrigerants are definitely part of the big picture.
One measure defined in the bill is to encourage greenhouse gas emission offset projects, defined specifically as efforts to reduce ozone depleting substance releases including HFC refrigerant. Another is to establish compliance mechanisms to be used by organizations subject to the greenhouse gas emission limits.
Act No. 65 (S.30): Conservation And Land Development; Air Pollution; Hydrofluorocarbons
This act establishes a schedule for when certain products must be manufactured without HFCs. These restrictions will roll out beginning in January 2021 and continue through 2020. The hope is that this will allow them to meet the goal of a 40% reduction from the 2013 level of use by 2030.
It also requires the Agency of Natural Resources to conduct rule-making and report back to the General Assembly January 15, 2020 on the progress (and any delays), and again on July 1, 2020 with their official proposed rules and HFC phase down schedule.
The state’s HFC transition schedule is based on EPA and industry assessments of a company’s ability to transition to safer alternatives. The restrictions apply to new and retrofitted equipment only. They do not require anyone to stop using restricted product or equipment if it was purchased before the effective date of restriction. All the more reason for technicians and building owners to maintain a strong focus on leak detection and maintenance tracking.
Last September the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) was directed to develop HFC phase out regulations. They announced in June that they expect to have those regulations ready in about a year. They began drafting the regulations based on those in the California legislation, and are in the process of collecting input from stakeholders who would be impacted by such legislation.
The recently completed legislative session resulted in the passage of multiple laws intended to reduce climate change pollution. Nothing in the list specifically confronts refrigerants, but given that this list of new laws is so assertive, addressing solar energy, consumer plastics and foam, offshore drilling and a general commitment to reducing carbon pollution by 80% by 2050, and that they are members of the US Climate Alliance, we’re keeping an eye on their momentum.
The other players…
We’re still waiting to hear more from Maryland and New Jersey on their plans. But they and other members of the U.S. Climate Alliance have been hard at work on working through potential regulations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, including addressing HFCs. Which leads us back to that question of the “patchwork of regulations” that can make it difficult to stay in compliance.
Connecting the Patchwork
But, according to the executive director Julie Cerqueira, the Alliance understands this is an issue. We attended ATMOsphere America in Atlanta last month, and Cerqueira, who was honored for her work at the Alliance by being named Person of the Year at the event, called for a collaboration between the HVAC/R industry and the states:
“Give us your best ideas and work with us to implement them… Some of our best ideas we have had because industry has brought them to my attention or has talked to our states.”
She stressed that working together will allow the Alliance to work towards consistent HFC regulations, and avoid that dreaded patchwork.
As usual the team at trakref®️ will keep their eyes and ears open for new developments to help you stay compliant. Have a happy and safe 4th of July weekend!