By Mark Valentini, Director of Legislative Affairs
PHCC has joined industry stakeholders Heating, Air-conditioning & Refrigeration Distributors International (HARDI) and Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA) in filing a petition for judicial review in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The petition asks the court to overturn the ban on single-use cylinders and cylinder tracking requirements contained in the recently finalized rule, Phasedown of Hydrofluorocarbons: Establishing the Allowance Allocation and Trading Program under the AIM Act.
PHCC supported passage of the AIM Act, which preempts states from implementing more aggressive timelines for phasing out the use of refrigerants containing hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), ergo allowing for more certainty and time for the industry to prepare for the transition to the next generation of refrigerants. Under the rulemaking, EPA seeks to require refrigerant cylinders be recyclable and tracked using a QR code system. EPA argues that this tracking system will reduce waste and prevent illegal refrigerants from being imported into the U.S. as has been experienced in the European market. However, the rulemaking puts undue responsibility on contractors and distributors to manage the tracking of these cylinders amongst other issues. PHCC filed comments with the EPA voicing our concerns back in July (see here) urging the EPA to reconsider as they are at best misinterpreting the breadth of their authority.
The lawsuit essentially does the following:
1. Challenges EPA authority: PHCC believes this goes beyond EPA’s statutory authority as the agency believes it has an overly broad interpretation of what their authority is in this regard under the AIM Act.
2. Argues that the rule is arbitrary and capricious in that it is irrational to expect distributors and contractors to keep track of product to this extent.
3. Argues that this is beyond the intent of Congress when it passed the AIM Act. Customs and Border Protection already ensure that illegal product does not enter the market. Also, the intent of the AIM Act was to put the onus on manufacturers for reporting and it was not meant to trickle down to the bottom of the distribution chain the way EPA intends it.
PHCC will provide updates as the litigation continues.
Director of Legislative Affairs , PHCC-National Association