ARLINGTON, Va. — In written testimony to the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, the head of the Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI) today stressed that when Congress, through S. 2754, the American Innovation and Manufacturing Act, establishes a national structure to phase down the production and use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), the result will be job creation and trade benefits while ensuring the continued availability of the chemicals for those industries and applications for which no viable alternative is currently available.
Representing the more than 320 manufacturers of air conditioning, heating, refrigeration, and water heating equipment, Stephen Yurek, president and CEO, AHRI, provided the testimony as part of a "paper hearing" before the bill's committee of jurisdiction.
Yurek stressed that the phasedown structure created by the bill would not affect equipment currently installed in homes and businesses nor HFC availability for current or future necessary applications.
"Importantly, the AIM Act does not prohibit the use of existing equipment, which consumers and business owners remain free to use through the equipment's lifetime nor does it mandate the purchase of new equipment," Yurek said. "HFCs also will remain available for servicing and maintenance for decades, due to the 15% tail at the end of the phasedown period and from the provisions in the AIM Act that enhance the recovery, recycling, and reclaim of used HFCs."
Yurek noted that his industry has invested "several billion dollars in R&D" for next-generation refrigerants and seeks "an orderly transition" from HFCs to next-generation refrigerants to create "certainty, stability, and predictability" for manufacturers as they create "33,000 new jobs — $12.5 billion in direct manufacturing output, [a] positive swing in the balance of trade, and [a] 25% boost in exports."
Yurek testified the "fears of higher costs accompanied past transitions from CFC [chlorofluorocarbons] and HCFC refrigerants, but, in fact, refrigerant and equipment prices did not increase over the course of those transitions," noting that in a typical home air conditioning system, "the refrigerant is less than 1% of the cost of the overall system."
Finally, Yurek downplayed concerns about the legislation not preempting states from enacting more stringent regulations, stating that most companies will completely transition from HFCs by mid-decade because "it is cheaper, easier, and more profitable to transition in one fell swoop." So, he stressed, "Once a company has transitioned from HFCs, states cannot impose a more stringent standard. There is nothing left for a state to regulate."
In conclusion, alluding to the national pandemic with which the entire nation is grappling, Yurek testified that, "The enactment of the AIM Act would settle the regulatory landscape for HFCs and provide American manufacturers in our sector with greater confidence and clarity as they seek to navigate these difficult times and plan for a fast and aggressive rebound. In every sense of the word, the AIM Act would serve as a potent form of economic stimulus for the U.S. HVACR industry, and it would do so without the need to appropriate any new federal funds. The benefits that would follow would be shared broadly by American manufacturers, workers, and consumers."