Ok, so this may seem like a curious title for the column from a HARDI president whose company doesn't sell refrigerants or equipment, but that is actually the entire point of this month's column. This special issue of HVACR Distribution Business is dedicated to the refrigerant transition that has dominated discussions in our industry over the last year. This is a fantastic source of valuable information for HARDI members, but it is also a testament to the time and effort many of our members have put into working with our government and industry partners to make this the least disruptive transition possible. While I don't sell refrigerants or equipment, I rely on an industry that does, and I am appreciative of the work many of my fellow members have done for HVACR wholesale distribution's greater good. I know these members are too modest to tell you what a huge impact they had, so I'll do it for them.
Before taking the reins as HARDI's president last fall, I was president-elect and one of the duties of that office is to represent the Executive Committee on HARDI's Policy Committee, along with representatives from each product council and the Government Relations Committee. The EPA provided our industry with an unwelcomed holiday surprise in 2008 when it published proposed rules for the next phase of the HCFC phaseout on Dec. 23. These proposed rules stated an unprecedented EPA intent to prohibit the servicing of existing R-22 air-conditioning and refrigeration systems, a ban on the sale of precharged products as of Jan. 1, 2010, and raised the possibility of turning upside down the supply channels for R-22 that the industry had known for more than a decade.
HARDI's Policy Committee and a quickly formed HCFC Rulemaking Task Force comprised of interested distributor members worked furiously through the holiday vacation with our industry partners to help prompt an apparent reversal by the EPA and the release of a “clarifying fact sheet” released in mid-January that revised EPA's intent to NOT interrupt or threaten the servicing of existing R-22 systems. That left 11 more months to work with the EPA to further improve final rules, which required completion before the end of 2009 to prevent disruptions in R-22 supplies.
The entire industry was getting nervous when the EPA first missed a goal of September to complete the rules, then October, then November. In late November, HARDI was instrumental in helping the EPA iron out several final sticking points with the rules that helped get them completed in time for their final release in early December. We were in constant communication with the EPA on the status of the rules, so we would know whether there could have been serious concerns about R-22 supply shortages.
All of these measures by so many dedicated members helped produce final rules that adopted just about every recommendation made by HARDI intended to protect the greater good. In turn, all of us will get through this transition more smoothly and more profitably as a result of their efforts. This is why we belong to HARDI and this is why it's so important to be involved.