Top Issues: Refrigerants
BACKGROUND: There has been a push in recent years to phase out refrigerants with hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) because of their high global warming potential (GWP). The refrigerants replacing HFCs are known as A2Ls and have mildly flammable properties. As such, they pose a potential hazard to contractors and consumers alike, especially if they are mishandled. Many states have attempted to transition from HFCs to A2Ls without proper safety protocols and regulations in place.
In December 2020, the AIM Act was signed into law by President Trump as part of the year end spending and COVID-19 relief package. The final version of the bill was a compromise agreed to by Senators Barrasso (R-WY), Kennedy (R-LA), and Carper (D-DE) in September 2020. It requires a phasedown of HFCs by 85 percent over 15 years. The agreement includes preemption (which would block accelerated state level phase-down efforts) for defense sprays, medical inhalers, semiconductor manufacturing, and mission-critical military uses, but not HVAC/R uses.
ACCA fought for preemption for HVAC/R uses and is disappointed that they uses were not included in the bill. With that said, we are hopeful that the federal phase-down schedule established by the AIM Act will discourage individual states from moving forward on an asymmetric, patch-work basis with their own laws and regulations.
ACCA’s primary focus is to ensure a safe transition from HFCs to mildly flammable refrigerants through contractor training, establishment of handling standards, and generating awareness of the potential hazards that mildly flammable A2L refrigerants pose. We plan to work closely with Congress, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and other relevant federal agencies to realize these goals.
SOLUTION: ACCA has developed comprehensive training and safety protocols as we move into flammable refrigerant use. ACCA has been a longtime champion of contractor and consumer safety, and the case of flammable refrigerants is no exception.
SOLUTION: ACCA supports the EPA’s authority to regulate refrigerants and supports Congress providing the proper authority for the EPA to regulate refrigerant sales and charging and recovery protocols. This includes updating Section 608 Stationary Refrigeration and Air Conditioning requirements to reflect the implementation of A2L refrigerants in the marketplace.
SOLUTION: ACCA supports increased funding for EPA’s enforcement programs, allowing EPA to conduct robust and equitable enforcement on those who illegally vent refrigerants.
SOLUTION: ACCA opposes the open-sale of refrigerants to unqualified/non-certified individuals.
SOLUTION: ACCA opposes the online sale of refrigerants.
SOLUTION: ACCA opposes the sale of pre-charged mini-split systems.