Almost two months ago on August 8th, 2017 a federal court ruled against the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed ban and phase-out of HFC refrigerants. Originally, the EPA had planned phase out of HFC refrigerants to begin next year with R-404A and again in 2020/21 for R-134a.
I’ve written about this ruling before so I will only do a brief synopsis here on what this ruling is about. Most of you are familiar with the Montreal Protocol. This was the treaty that banned CFCs and HCFCs from the refrigerant world. They banned these refrigerants due to the Chlorine they contained. In 2015 the Obama administration tried to use this same treaty to ban HFC refrigerants. Only one problem though, HFC refrigerants do not contain any Chlorine. When the EPA announced their proposed phase-out of HFC refrigerants they referenced their authority from the Clean Air Act, section 612. Again, we run into the same problem here. This section was written in reference to Chlorine and the Ozone layer, not for HFC refrigerants. For more information on this click here to read my previous article.
Here is where the courts stepped in and ruled against the EPA’s phase-out of HFCs. The courts ruled that this phase-out was beyond the authority of the EPA. If a phase-out was to be made then it should go through congress. Which, is the right thing to do. This ruling upset a lot of the big boys in the industry such as Honeywell, Chemours, and yes… AHRI.
The Push for Appeal
America’s Air Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute is now pushing for appeal of this ruling. The deadline for appeal is September 22nd, or only a few days from now. No one knows for sure exactly what is going to happen here. If the court’s ruling stands then the entire market may be turned on it’s head. The prices of HFC refrigerants could fall substantially.
What AHRI is doing is pushing for the EPA itself to push for the appeal. However, if the EPA does not take action then we very well may see Honeywell or Chemour file an appeal. Here is the disturbing part. The AHRI has been contacting the EPA and the White House informing them of the industry’s position on the matter. Evidently, the entire industry’s position is to enforce the HFC phase-out and to push HFO’s onto the marketplace in full force. Who knew?
I may be getting a tad political here but I am just going to be straight forward with you guys and tell you what I think is going on here. Sure, the AHRI and others may hide behind the shield of Global Warming. By cutting HFCs out we can save the world and all of that other hub bub. What they won’t tell you is that the two companies pushing the hardest for HFC phase-outs are Honeywell and Chemours. For those of you who read my article last week you know about these two companies’ monopoly on the HFO refrigerant industry.
This may be the cynic in me but it seems that Honeywell, Chemours, along with the AHRI, are pushing this appeal so hard because they don’t want to lose their investments and their monopoly in the soon to be dominant HFO refrigerant market. To me, all of this doesn’t seem to be about Global Warming but instead lining their pockets with a consolidated market. Think about how much refrigerants the US goes through in a year. Now think about only two companies supplying all of that refrigerant. Prices would go through the roof.
Regardless of how I, or you, feel about this we should know this week if an appeal will be heard or not. I do not know how much power the sitting President or Congress would have over this fight in the courts but maybe they can turn the tide against the conglomerates. I am hoping that HFC refrigerants get more time in the US but only time will tell.