California HFC bans are in effect

On Jan. 1,  the California Cooling Act (CCA), Senate Bill 1013, became law. CCA reinstated the previously vacated U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Significant New Alternatives Policy (EPA SNAP) Rules 20 and 21 requiring hydrofluorocarbon(HFCs) reductions. CCA required businesses to transition to alternative refrigerants for some products sold in the state on Jan. 1; additional requirements take effect Jan. 1, 2020. The requirements and enforcement details are on the California Air Resources Board (CARB) website.

Depending on their business and supply chain, NAFEM members are impacted differently by the CCA. According to Rick Seiss, CFSP, director of engineering at Unified Brands, “Even when the EPA SNAP rules were vacated by the U.S. Court of Appeals, we kept up the pressure to innovate to the proposed standards. We expected that the EPA would go at it again or that a state like California would step in, which actually made our business decision easier. California regulations cover all of our products, so we couldn’t ignore the standards. It was a tremendous effort but, in the end, we’re better for it.”

Of particular concern was the speed with which CARB implemented the new CCA requirements. “I can’t recall ever seeing only five days between the time a regulation was finalized and became law,” said Stephen Schaefer, compliance engineer III, Hoshizaki America. “Putting new disclosure statements and recordkeeping requirements in place takes time. And this is nothing compared to the time and expertise required to overhaul manufacturing operations to deal with flammable refrigerants. Unfortunately, having to fast-track these changes may have put smaller manufacturers at an unfortunate disadvantage.”

Stephen suggests that manufacturers having challenges meeting the new CARB requirements speak to their elected officials and ask for support, especially if they are still in the process of converting to flammable refrigerants since the proposed EPA SNAP federal standard was deemed an overstep by the U.S. Court of Appeals. “A waiver process should be put in place for companies working on the conversion but facing some obstacles.”

As for what the future holds, Stephen predicts that the federal government will eventually step in with one unified standard, but not before multiple states undertake efforts similar to California.

Members are reminded that CCA enforcement is strictly on the date of manufacture, not first installation. Also, there is no “sell through” period mentioned in the Act, so there is no time limit on the first installation of equipment manufactured before Jan. 1.