A few more dominoes fell this week in the HFC phase down across the United States. I had reported a few weeks ago that Washington State’s HFC phase down had passed the legislature and just needed the signature from the governor. Well, Governor Jay Inslee signed bill HB 1112 this week. This adds yet another state to the ever growing list that has begun phasing down HFC refrigerants. We now have California, New York, Maryland, Connecticut, and now Washington State phasing down HFC refrigerants. There are other states as well considering their own legislation.
So far all of these state planned phase downs have been modeled after the original Environmental Protection Agency’s SNAP Rule 20 and 21 from 2015. The same holds true for another state that announced their intentions to phase down HFC refrigerants: Vermont. Yes, Vermont has announced that they are intending to phase down HFC refrigerants as well through their new bill ‘S. 30.’ The bill passed the legislature last week and is expected a signature from the governor soon.
With an effective date of July 1st, 2019 Vermont is wasting no time. Just like with the other states Vermont begins their phase down by targeting R-404A applications and larger cold storage warehouses. 404A is always the first target as it has an extremely high Global Warming Potential. It’s the low hanging fruit of the HFC refrigerants. As the years progress Vermont will target other applications and HFC refrigerants through a staggered approach. The end goal of Vermont’s HFC phasedown is to see a forty percent usage reduction based on 2013 levels by the year 2030.
Vermont, along with twenty-three other states, is part of what’s known as the United States Climate Alliance.’ This alliance was formed when the Trump Administration pulled the United States out of the Paris Climate Accord. The goal of the alliance is to create a coalition of states that work together to fight Climate Change and Global Warming. Their thinking is if the Federal Government isn’t going to do anything then the states will have to.
The other states in the Climate Alliance are all expected to follow suit in the coming years. This all started with California and then we began to see the snowball effect take hold as New York and other New England states announced they were planning HFC phasedowns. Nearly half the states in The Union are part of this Climate Alliance and it’s only a matter of time before more HFC phase down announcements are made. What state will be next?
The Federal Government’s positions on HFC phase down has been a mystery for the past few years. The EPA’s SNAP Rule was thrown out by the courts. The Kigali Amendment went into effect at the beginning of this year but the United States never ratified the treaty. The EPA may announce something soon, but it is unclear what this announcement will be.
I’ve said this before in other HFC phase down articles but as more states are added to the list eventually manufacturing companies are going to be forced to move away from HFCs… even if there isn’t a Federal mandate. If enough states phase out HFCs then manufacturers will either have to produce two different models (One for HFC states and one for non-HFC states), or the manufacturers will have to do a complete switch over to lower GWP refrigerants. If I was in their shoes, I know what I would choose.
Regardless of what happens, we can all be assured that over the next ten years the usage of HFCs will be going down and we will seem them being replaced with either natural refrigerants, hydrocarbons, or HFOs. The industry is getting more diversified and that means more specialized training to deal with these varying refrigerants.