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US contractors call for unified HFC phase down

USA: The leading air conditioning contractors’ association in the US has called for a unified approach to the phase down of high GWP HFCs to ensure A2L refrigerants are introduced safely.

The  demands are included in a submission by the Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA) to the US Senate Environment and Public Works Committee regarding the American Innovation and Manufacturing (AIM) Act of 2019. 

The AIM Act was filed last year by a group of 16 Republican and Democrat senators. It is intention is to authorise a 15-year phase down of HFC refrigerants to give businesses a clear timeline for transitioning to new lower GWP refrigerants.  

Responding to the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee’s call for public testimony from interested parties, ACCA’s testimony calls for the AIM Act to be amended and include preemption language that would prohibit states from enacting separate phase down schedules and rules. Due to California’s efforts to implement a state phase down, ACCA believes that Congress must establish a unified phase down schedule that will provide certainty to contractors.

“ACCA’s board of directors unanimously approves amending the AIM Act to include preemption language. Having served on the Industry’s Safe Refrigerant Transition Task Force since its founding more than a year ago, it is clear that contractors need certainty and do not want states playing politics with refrigerant regulations to see which state can phase down HFCs the fastest and beef up their climate change credentials,” said ACCA chairman Lanny Huffman, 

Huffman, who is also president of Hickory Sheet Metal Co, a full-service mechanical contractor operating out of Hickory, North Carolina, added: “As a business that has been operating for more than 90 years, we have seen our fair share of refrigerant changes. However, the next phase down, which will lead to the introduction of A2L mildly flammable refrigerants is a wholly different phase down that raises significant concerns in the contracting industry and to our customers. We have to get this right the first time, and we must have a unified approach across the US to ensure the introduction of A2L refrigerants is done safely.”

ACCA also calls for Congress and the EP to restrict the sale of refrigerants and HVACR systems, to only trained and certified individuals. ACCA acknowledges that consumers and other unqualified individuals can easily purchase products without proper credentials, and ACCA wants the AIM Act updated to require anyone purchasing refrigerants or HVACR systems to have their EPA certifications.

Barton James, ACCA President and CEO, said, “It is well known that non-certified and unqualified individuals are easily able to purchase refrigerants and HVACR equipment from supply houses and online retailers. ACCA supports adding language to the AIM Act that would restrict the sale of refrigerants and HVACR systems to EPA certified individuals. Too many individuals that are untrained on the environmental and safety issues of refrigerants and HVACR systems can purchase these products, and cause serious harm to the environment, the efficiency of HVACR systems, and likely the lifespan of the equipment.”

James continued, “Any organisation that claims to support professionalism and excellence in the HVACR industry should be advocating for these issues. It appears that some for-profit organisations that provide certifications and credentialing in the HVACR industry are not talking to contractors, and might be looking at what is best for them financially instead of what is best for the contractor including their safety. Through our lobbying and advocacy work, we fight to make sure the voice of the contractor is heard throughout our industry, as well as with local, federal, and state-level decision-makers.”

Related stories:

US senators introduce bill to phase down HFCs31 October 2019
USA: A bipartisan coalition of US senators has introduced legislation that would give the Environmental Protection Agency the authority to regulate HFCs in line with the Kigali Amendment. Read more…

US industry calls for support to phase down HFCs – 10 October 2019
USA: Air conditioning and refrigeration industry representatives have urged the US Congress to support the phase down of HFC refrigerants. Read more…

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