Regulatory Outlook for 2022 by Lowell Randel, IIAR Government Relations Director

As the Biden Administration enters its second year, agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) are preparing to take significant regulatory actions that will impact the industrial refrigeration industry. On December 15, 2021, the Biden Administration published its regulatory agenda, which outlines the plans of federal agencies across the government. The agenda includes proposals that will result in changes to several regulations impacting IIAR members. As a result, IIAR expects heavy rulemaking activity in 2022.

Below are descriptions of some of the most significant regulations scheduled for action in 2022: EPA’s Risk Management Program – “Accidental Release Prevention Requirements: Risk Management Program Under the Clean Air Act; Retrospection”

The EPA Risk Management Program (RMP) has been the subject of several rulemakings over the last 5 years. At the end of the Obama Administration, EPA published a final RMP rule known as the “2017 Amendments” which added compliance requirements for regulated facilities in areas such as emergency response planning, third-party audits, and information sharing. The Trump Administration executed a rulemaking to reconsider these amendments, resulting in a rule that rescinded many of the 2017 Amendments. The Biden Administration is now considering further revisions to the RMP program.

On January 20, 2021, Executive Order 13990, Protecting Public Health and the Environment and Restoring Science To Tackle the Climate Crisis (EO 13990), directed federal agencies to review existing regulations and take action to address priorities established by the new administration including bolstering resilience to the impact of climate change and prioritizing environmental justice. The EPA is considering developing a regulatory action to revise the current RMP regulations. The proposed rule would address the administration’s priorities and focus on regulatory revisions completed since 2017. The proposed rule would also expect to contain several proposed modifications to the RMP regulations based in part on stakeholder feedback received from RMP public listening sessions held on June 16 and July 8, 2021. IIAR participated in these listening sessions and suggested the recently finalized reconsideration rule took appropriate action and that no further rulemaking is needed.

The EPA currently plans to prepare a notice of proposed rulemaking that would provide the public an opportunity to comment on the proposal and any regulatory alternatives that may be identified within the preamble to the proposed rulemaking. According to the regulatory agenda EPA is expected to issue a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in September 2022 and complete a Final Rule by August 2023.

IIAR has actively participated in previous RMP rulemakings and will continue to engage with EPA and like-minded partners to communicate the industry’s positions on regulatory proposals and their potential impact on regulated entities.

EPA’s HFC Phase Down – “Restrictions on Certain Uses of Hydrofluorocarbons Under Subsection (i) of the American Innovation and Manufacturing Act”
The American Innovation and Manufacturing (AIM) Act, enacted on December 27, 2020, provides EPA new authorities to address hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) in three main areas: phasing down the production and consumption of listed HFCs, maximizing reclamation, and minimizing releases of these HFCs and their substitutes in equipment (e.g., refrigerators and air conditioners), and facilitating the transition to next generation technologies by restricting the use of HFCs in particular sectors or subsectors.

Since enactment, EPA has moved to implement the statute, including rulemaking in the Fall of 2021 that set the HFC baseline and schedule for phasing down consumption. The next step of the process will be establishing rules for various sectors and uses of HFCs. IIAR submitted a petition to EPA in 2021 suggesting policies for phasing down HFC use in refrigeration. EPA has granted IIAR’s petition, along with a few other petitions requesting similar phasedown policies. EPA is expected to draw from these petitions as it moves to draft a Proposed Rule regarding HFCs and the refrigeration sector.

The December 2021 regulatory agenda states that EPA is considering a rule that will restrict, fully, partially, or on a graduated schedule, the use of HFCs in sectors or subsectors including the refrigeration, air conditioning, aerosol, and foam sectors. The rule will also establish recordkeeping and reporting requirements and address other related elements of the AIM Act.

According to the regulatory agenda, EPA is planning to publish a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in June 2022. A Final Rule is expected to be completed in 2023. This regulation has the potential to impact industrial refrigeration systems using HFCs and presents an opportunity to promote the transition to natural refrigerants. IIAR will continue to work with EPA and update members as the rulemaking process moves forward.

OSHA’s “Process Safety Management and Prevention of Major Chemical Accidents”
The Obama Administration initiated a rulemaking to “modernize” OSHA’s Process Safety Management (PSM) regulation in response to the explosion in West, Texas. OSHA went through a Request for Information and convened a panel under the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act to review potential impacts to regulated small businesses. The Trump Administration placed the rulemaking on the “long-term agenda” effectively pausing any further considerations. The Biden Administration has since moved the rulemaking into the “pre-rule” stage and is planning to conduct a stakeholder meeting in 2022. After considering the input from the stakeholder meeting, OSHA is expected to develop a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking. OSHA rulemakings historically have taken multiple years to complete. IIAR has actively participated in this rulemaking and will continue to engage with OSHA throughout the process.

The Biden regulatory agenda shows aggressive plans to advance many regulatory initiatives that could impact IIAR members in 2022. IIAR has been and will continue to be, closely engaged with the agencies to promote the interests of the industrial refrigeration industry as each of these rulemakings moves forward.