Donald Trump's Affect on the Refrigerant Industry

HFC Phase Outs, The EPA, The White House, and Me

Those of you who follow my posts will know how I feel about the EPA’s SNAP Rule 20. The Rule 20 is the EPA’s planned phase out of HFC refrigerants across the United States. Depending on the application and the type of refrigerant used there were different dates that they would be phased out. This rule was announced over the summer of 2015. What irked me about it, and what still does, is that this rule was just deemed so by the Environmental Protection Agency. Congress was not involved. The White House was not involved. No, it was just the EPA saying how it would be.

What really got me though was that the EPA referenced section 612 of the Clean Air Act for their phase out. The problem here is that this section of the Clean Air Act was designed specifically for CFC and HCFC refrigerants. It has nothing to do with HFC refrigerants. It’s design was to stop the damage to the Ozone layer by offering alternative refrigerants. Since HFC’s do not contain Chlorine and do not damage the Ozone they should not fall in the same category.

Well, I kind of got my way at the end of this summer. In August of 2017 a Federal Court unexpectedly ruled against the EPA’s phase out of HFC refrigerants. This ruling threw everything into a tailspin and no one knew exactly what would happen next. For more information on this I wrote an article around the time it happened which can be found by clicking here. Basically, the court ruled that the EPA overstepped it’s reach and that if they wanted to phase out HFCs then it would have to go through Congress. (As it should be!)

The Appeal

I can’t say that I was surprised to find out that the court’s ruling was appealed by Honeywell and Chemours. They had two main arguments in their case:

  1. First, they argue that the SNAP Rule 20 was well-founded and that the federal court’s ruling exceeded it’s jurisdiction as well as ignoring the original intent of the SNAP Program. (To replace Ozone depleting refrigerants with the safest alternatives.) This argument drives me crazy folks. They know they didn’t go through Congress and they know that they didn’t do it the right way. But none of that matters. No. Their intent was good. I guess as long as my intent is good I can do anything I want.
  2. The second argument and just as ludicrous in my book is that these two companies invested two much money to have this ruling being turned on it’s head. Chemours noted that they had invested more then one billion dollars to research, develop, and commercialize their new HFO refrigerants. All of this development was done under the guise of HFC refrigerants being phased out. What they don’t tell you here is that Chemours and Honeywell, have been investing money into HFOs long before the EPA made it’s decision to phase out HFC refrigerants in 2015. This argument seems like a moot point. In business their a thing called risk as all of you know.

My Letter to Trump

I was irritated when all of this was going on. I felt that there was nothing I could do, and in reality there really wasn’t anything that I could do… but I got it in my head to reach out to the White House. I wrote an e-mail to Donald Trump. Yes, yes I know. It’s cheesy but hey what harm could come from it? Well, I wrote the thing when all of this was going on in the month of October. The letter basically advocated for the courts to rule against the appeal and if the goverment really wanted HFCs phased out then they should go through the proper method of the House, the Senate, and the White House.

A few months passed by and I hadn’t even thought about the e-mail I wrote. Then a few days ago I got an e-mail back from The White House. At first I was very excited but after reading it I realized that it was a generic non-answer e-mail that they had sent back to me. Sure, there were a lot of words in it but after reading it I felt like they didn’t even read my e-mail. It reads like a copy and paste that they do with anything that contains the environment or the EPA. See for yourself. Below is a copy of the letter I received:

Conclusion

I’m not really sure what I learned from this experience. Who knows. Maybe I made a difference. Maybe when the courts hear the appeal they take my e-mail into consideration, but I have a feeling that my e-mail has long been forgotten and will never be read or seen by anyone else. Oh well, it was a fun thought and the possibility of having an impact was a neat idea.

Thanks for reading,

Alec Johnson

RefrigerantHQ

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