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ASHRAE Government Affairs Update, 7/8/2016

US Federal Legislative & Regulatory Activities

For additional information on Federal and international legislative and regulatory issues, please contact Mark Ames, ASHRAE’s Senior Manager of Federal Government Affairs, at [email protected].

While Congress Slows Down, Agencies Continue Churning Out Regulations

Frustration abounds in Congress. Competing world views and the pressures of the upcoming elections are manifesting in rampant gridlock that is compounded by veto threats from US President Barack Obama, as he seeks to defend his most important priorities and Administrative legacies. Further complicating this is the scarcity of legislative time left this year. Members of Congress are in Washington, DC next week, but are then out and don’t return until after Labor Day. All told, there are only about 38 legislative days remaining for Congress to complete its work this year, and some Members of Congress have been pushing their leadership to shorten this time.

On the appropriations front, it’s looking increasingly likely that the long-predicted need for an omnibus bill or continuing resolution will become reality.

The National Defense Authorization Act – which has been enacted into law ever year for over 50 years – while usually the subject of rich debate, has escalated to an unusually high level of controversy, as the House-passed version (H.R.4909) would prohibit funds from being used to continue implementing President Obama’s Executive Orders on climate change and sustainability. President Obama issued a veto threat on this bill. House and Senate leaders will work together in the coming weeks to develop a bill that President Obama can sign into law.

The comprehensive energy bill (S.2012) has stalled as a result of election year tensions and a lack of agreement over how to address the differences between the House and Senate versions.

While legislative action at the US Federal level has slowed to a trickle, government agencies have continued issuing regulations. Read on for highlights of several recent regulatory actions of interest to ASHRAE.


DOEFinalizes Regional Standards Enforcement

The US Department of Energy (DOE) has issued a pre-publication of its finalized enforcement plan for the Regional Standard governing Central & Single Packaged Air Conditioners. While the Regional Standard only applies to installations in the South and Southwest portion of the country, distributors across the United States must begin to maintain certain records effective July 1, 2016.

Effective July 1, 2016, ALL DISTRIBUTORS must maintain the following records (for 4.5 years) on the sale of each split-system central air conditioner condensing unit and single-package central air conditioners:

Split-System Central Air Conditioner Condensing Unit

  • Manufacturer
  • Model Number
  • Serial Number
  • Date unit was purchased
  • Contact information from whom the unit was purchased
  • Date the unit was sold
  • Contact information of the purchaser (name/ address/ phone number)
  • Delivery address (if applicable)

Single-Package Central Air Conditioners

  • Manufacturer
  • Model Number
  • Serial Number
  • Date unit was purchased
  • Contact information from whom the unit was purchased
  • Date the unit was sold
  • Contact information of the purchaser (name/ address/ phone number)
  • Delivery address (if applicable)

Installing contractors in the South and Southwest must maintain all of the information above AND the address of the installation location and name of the purchaser for Split-System Central Air Conditioner Condensing Unit, Split-System Central Air Conditioner Indoor Units (not including uncased coils sold as replacement parts) and Single-Package Central Air Conditioners. These records must be maintained for four years. This requirement will take effect for contractors approximately the week of July 11.

As a reminder, the last day that 13-SEER central and/or single-packaged air conditioners manufactured prior to January 1, 2015 may be installed in the South or Southwest Region is June 30.

Additionally, heat pumps are not subject to regional standards and not subject to any of the requirements listed above (i.e. there is no limitation on the sale of 13-SEER products manufactured or imported before January 1, 2015 and no requirement to maintain records).

DOE has established a website for the enforcement of Regional Standards and created a brochure for contractors and homeowners.


Feedback Sought by DOE on Potential Impacts of IAQ from Proposed Energy Conservation Standards for Manufactured Housing

In mid-June, DOE issued a rulemaking notice proposing to establish energy conservation standards for manufactured housing that are based on the negotiated consensus recommendations of their Manufactured Housing Working Group. The US Department of Energy is seeking feedback from the public on the proposed standards, and is also requesting information to help the Department analyze the potential IAQ impacts of the proposed standards. Feedback to DOE is due by mid-August. For additional information, please click both here and here.


EPA Proposes Design Details for the Clean Energy Incentive Program

As part of President Obama’s Clean Power Plan (CPP), the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released proposed design details for the Clean Energy Incentive Program (CEIP), which is intended to provide States with an optional means under the CPP of incentivizing early investments in demand-side energy efficiency and renewable energy generation in low-income communities.

Although the implementation of the CPP has been stayed by the US Supreme Court, and as a result, timelines may need to be shifted in accordance with the Supreme Courts’ later ruling on the CPP, EPA is for the time being, proposing to retain the start date of September 6, 2018 for demand-side energy efficiency CEIP projects implemented in low-income communities. For renewable energy generation projects in low-income communities under the CEIP, EPA is proposing a start date of January 1, 2020.

Comments on the proposed CEIP design are due to EPA on or before August 29, 2016. Although a seemingly complex program, EPA has fact sheets and related information to help interested parties understand the CEIP. These, as well as the proposed CEIP design can be found here.


GGAC Regional and Chapter Activities

For additional information on State, local, and international government affairs, please contact Jim Scarborough, ASHRAE’s Manager of Grassroots Government Affairs, at [email protected].

ASHRAE Approves New Public Policy Issue Briefs for Members & Policymakers

Last week at ASHRAE’s Annual Conference in St. Louis, MO, the Society approved new updates to eight Public Policy Issue Briefs:

  • Building Energy Data: A Critical Resource
  • Climate Change and Building Energy Efficiency
  • Consensus Standards: Expert Solutions to Meet National Needs
  • Energy Efficiency for Buildings and HVAC&R Equipment
  • Energy Use Metrics and Targets for Commercial Buildings
  • Research and Development Needs to Meet National Goals
  • Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Education & Competitiveness
  • Commercial Building Energy Use Disclosure

The Issue Briefs are an effort to translate the Society’s positions and activities into easily understood and communicated concepts, which are intended for distribution to government officials and others with limited technical expertise, but who would benefit from information regarding ASHRAE and its activities.


US State Legislative Updates

  • Alaska – legislators in Alaska adjourned a special session after failing to reach an agreement on Governor Bill Walker’s (I) revenue-raising proposals. Earlier, the legislature had passed a budget that reduces the deficit from $4 billion to $3.2 billion. In response, Governor Walker has called lawmakers into an additional special session, beginning July 11, to further consider three new deficit reduction bills as well as his tax increase proposals.  
  • Kansas – legislators completed a two-day special session on June 24 after approving a bipartisan compromise education finance measure which was necessitated by a State Supreme Court decision. The legislation utilizes proceeds from the sale of Kansas Bioscience Authority assets to grant $38 million in additional school equity spending. Governor Sam Brownback (R) has indicated that he plans to sign the measure into law.
  • Louisiana – lawmakers concluded the second special session this year after approving a $263 million budget. Governor John Bel Edwards (D) had prescribed $600 million. The lesser amounts will likely mean spending cuts to balance the ledger. As the special session ended, lawmakers were unable to reach an agreement on raising $88 million through a sunset in an individual income tax break.
  • Mississippi – Governor Phil Bryant (R) called lawmakers into a special session on June 28 to authorize him to transfer money from the rainy day fund to the general fund to cover up as much as $75 million in the current spending gap. Governor Bryant has also made several budget cuts to buttress the anticipated funding maneuver.  
  • New York – the New York legislature passed a bill prior to the adjournment of its Spring Session, providing for mandatory testing for lead in school drinking water. The bill clarifies that districts can use building aid to pay for the testing, which carries an estimated cost of $5,000 per school. The legislature failed to agree on an affordable housing program. The regular session does not officially adjourn until January 2017. Lawmakers could return in the summer or fall if needed.
  • Rhode Island – lawmakers in Rhode Island adjourned their session two weeks earlier than anticipated after approving a new $8.9 billion State budget. Governor Gina Raimondo (D), who does not have a pocket veto, has until June 28 to sign or veto legislation sent to her.  
  • West Virginia – lawmakers concluded a 17-day special session on June 14 after breaking a 92-day impasse and approving a $4.18 billion State budget that includes a new special reserve fund to alleviate the impact of rising State pension premium hikes. Legislators also approved a $120 million in spending cuts and a $70 million appropriation from the rainy day fund.

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