On February 13, 2019, DOE published a proposal to amend the Process Improvement Rule that directs the Department on the processes and procedures it uses to promulgate rules for the appliance efficiency program. The proposal is responsive to stakeholder comments, including AHRI’s and members concerns. AHRI General Counsel Caroline Davidson-Hood hosted an AHRI webinar outlining the process rule and presented AHRI’s position earlier this month. The webinar recording is available to AHRI members only on the AHRI members’ page. AHRI will submit comments on May 6, 2019.
AHRI Legal continues to follow two lawsuits in particular – NRDC v. Perry and SNAP 21 – which will have an impact on how regulations on our members’ products will be shaped in the future. In the NRDC v. Perry case, Natural Resources Defense Council and states attorney general are suing to force DOE to finalize four draft rules released in 2017, one is the commercial package boiler rule. Oral arguments were held on November 14, 2018 at the United States Court for the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco. Ms. Davidson-Hood and I attended the oral arguments. AHRI is still waiting for the Ninth Circuit to issue their decision. AHRI Legal Department will continue to monitor and update members on the progress of the case.
The SNAP 21 litigation finally came to a close in April, the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit issued a decision on April 5, 2019 vacating the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) SNAP Rule 21 regulation in response to a lawsuit brought by AHRI members Mexichem Flour and Arkema. The SNAP 21 rule, which delisted certain HFCs, was issued in 2016 and was similar to the previous rule, SNAP 20, issued in 2015. SNAP 20 rule was vacated in 2017 by a 3-judge panel the DC Circuit Court.
We expect EPA to take action to issue a guidance document in response to the court’s decision clarifying how it will implement that decision. EPA will then have to re-draft the SNAP 21 rule to address Court’s ruling, just as it is in the process of redrafting the SNAP 20 rule. We will continue to keep AHRI members updated as we await the EPA’s proposal.
Part of our role within AHRI is to support our colleagues as they work on policy and regulatory issues. Most recently we have worked with our Government Affairs team to offer subject matter expertise as they work toward modernizing the Energy Policy and Conservation Act, warmly known in our industry as EPCA. We’ve also worked closely on HFC legislation, and efforts in California related to electrification and serial number tracking, all of which have critical implication to our members’ products. Per the direction of the AHRI GAC, an Electrification Task Force was assembled to product an AHRI industry position statement on electrification. Over a span of two months, the task force met and developed guiding principles on electrification that was approved by the AHRI GAC and ultimately by the AHRI Board in March 2019. The Guiding Principles on Electrification are available on AHRI website in the members only portal.
AHRI and members continue to engage the California Energy Commission on how to improve permitting compliance within the state of California as the CEC staff draft an action plan to be released this fall. Several stakeholders in California has again proposed Serial Number Tracking as a viable solution to increase permitting compliance. AHRI and members have submitted comments and have met with CEC staff challenging Serial Number Tracking. AHRI staff will continue to monitor this issue and inform membership of any new developments.