DOE/EPA priorities outlined in Unified Agenda

Each spring and fall, the U.S. government issues the Unified Agenda of Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions that identifies the near- and long-term regulatory actions of the various federal government agencies. The spring Unified Agenda was issued this month. It includes several items from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) of interest to NAFEM members with specific product categories:

  1. Commercial refrigeration equipment – Requests for information on whether to amend the current energy standards and test procedures are expected soon.
  2. Automatic commercial ice makers – A request for information on whether to amend the current energy standards and test procedures are expected soon. EPA also anticipates issuing a notice of proposed rulemaking (NOPR) in August on whether amendments to the current test procedures are warranted.
  3. Walk-in coolers/walk-in freezers – A request for information on whether to amend the test procedures is expected soon and another on whether to amend the current energy standards is expected in August.

Any amendments to the above test procedures need to be technically and economically justified, per the Energy Policy and Conservation Act (EPCA).

DOE also included several programmatic items of interest in the Unified Agenda:

  1. A NOPR is expected soon on a proposal to revise existing enforcement regulations for certain consumer products and commercial and industrial equipment covered under the EPCA. The proposal is intended to provide further clarity and transparency about DOE’s processes, including enforcement sampling procedures and test notice requirements.
  2. A second NOPR also is expected soon on a proposal to update the test procedure waiver decision-making process. DOE proposes a requirement to notify applicants within 30 days whether their waiver was granted or denied. If the agency fails to meet this requirement, the waiver would be deemed granted. NAFEM has requested this approach in multiple comments submitted to the agency.
  3. A third NOPR also is expected soon on revised procedures for issuing guidance documents, including a process for the public to petition DOE to modify or withdraw guidance documents.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) also communicated its intent to issue NOPRs to address three Significant New Alternatives Policy program (SNAP) issues related to allowable refrigerants:

  1. First, EPA has already published a NOPR related to the use of certain refrigerants for medium-temperature categories. NAFEM filed comments on the NOPR July 27, 2020. EPA lists January 2021 as the anticipated date for the final rule. (See article above.)
  2. Next, EPA plans to publish a NOPR in response to prior court rulings (Mexichem Fluor v. EPA), in which the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit restored an earlier federal prohibition on switching from ozone-depleting substances to hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). The NOPR is expected in December with a final rule in October 2021.
  3. Finally, EPA expects to publish a NOPR evaluating manufacturers’ submissions and petitions concerning listings of refrigerant substitutes. EPA anticipates the NOPR in October 2020 with a final rule in September 2021.