How Will Federal EPA Policy Changes Impact Refrigerant Regulations in 2021?
Is your company’s practices in line with the federal EPA policy changes that are already underway and will impact refrigerant regulations in 2021? In the past month alone, numerous regulatory activities have showcased the shift that will occur with federal refrigerant policy.
For instance, there have been several executive orders on the climate and environment; additionally, the EPA is tasked with the implementation of the AIM Act, which will impact the management of HFC refrigerants.
Thus, at the federal level, 2021 will be an action-packed year; in fact, EPA policy is already changing and can impact refrigerant management in the near-term, including your own operations.
New Federal Policy for the Climate and Environment
“Protecting Public Health and the Environment and Restoring Science To Tackle the Climate Crisis,” Executive Order 13990, explains the environmental policy of the new Biden administration.
The policy of the new administration is to “improve public health and protect our environment; ensure access to clean air and water; to limit exposure to dangerous chemicals and pesticides; to hold polluters accountable … to reduce greenhouse gas emissions; to bolster resilience to the impacts of climate change.” (Emphasis mine.)
The executive order goes on to call for an immediate review of all existing regulations, orders, guidance documents, policies, etc, that were promulgated, issued, or adopted in the past four years that are or may be inconsistent with this new policy.
The rule published last year on March 11, 2020, that overturned the appliance maintenance and leak repair provisions for HFCs at 40 CFR 82.157 could very likely be reversed and restored.
If that were to unfold, it would mean that HFCs would then be subject to the EPA Section 608’s leak repair again.
U.S. Rejoins the Paris Agreement and Aims for Net-Zero Emissions by 2050
“Tackling the Climate Crisis,” Executive Order 14008, states that climate considerations will be an essential element of foreign policy and national security.
Among many things, this executive order had the U.S. rejoin the Paris Agreement, an international treaty that seeks to reduce global warming below 2 degrees Celsius, preferably 1.5 degrees Celsius.
Rejoining the Paris Agreement could have significant ramifications to the world of refrigerants; it could give momentum to finally ratify the Kigali Amendment.
In addition, Executive Order 14008 seeks to put the U.S. on a path to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. HFC refrigerants are considered short-lived climate pollutants (SLCP), so such a mission must encompass effective refrigerant management.
Implementation of the AIM Act
The American Innovation & Manufacturing (AIM) Act will 1) establish a phase down of HFC production and consumption, 2) facilitate transition to next-generation technologies, and 3) control the management of HFCs.
To meet statutory deadlines, the phase down regulations must be enacted by September 23, 2021. That’s not too far off; it gives you and your team a little over six months away to plan.
Additionally, in regards to the AIM Act’s management of HFCs, the EPA may align with other regulations, like EPA Section 608. Again, this makes it even more likely that the appliance maintenance and leak repair revisions that were rolled back last March could be restored.
Moreover, by late April/early May, we can expect the first action a part of the AIM Act, an allocation rulemaking.
Change Is Already Here—Have A Plan Now
As you can see, there are numerous regulatory activities at the federal level that will impact refrigerant policy in 2021. Much of the change is already here.
That’s why it’s important for you and your team to have a plan now.
With over 25+ years in HVACR and refrigerant compliance, Trakref’s team of refrigerant geeks can help you prepare for the changes. That’s all for now. As always, thanks for joining us here on the Trakref blog.
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Ted is the President & CEO of Trakref, a cloud-based HVAC/R and refrigerant management software company that provides unprecedented solutions for commercial properties. He has spent more than 20 years in the HVAC/R industry, even owning and operating one of the nation’s largest refrigerant reclaim and recycling companies.