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Catherine Treadwell Perry, J.D., Director of Government Relations
Last week the House Energy and Commerce Committee held a hearing on “Promoting American Innovation and Jobs Legislation to Phase Down Hydrofluorocarbons.” The hearing introduced the H.R. 5544, the American Innovation and Manufacturing Leadership Act of 2020. This bill will be most interesting to ASA’s HVAC members.
This is a bipartisan bill that would phase down the use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), coolants primarily used in air conditioning and refrigerators, in favor of more environmentally sound alternatives supported by the manufacturing industry. The bill will provide a responsible phase down of HFC’s and will stimulate additional economic benefits by creating an additional 33,000 manufacturing jobs, improving the U.S. trade balance in equipment and chemicals by $12.5 billion annually and increasing exports by $5 billion. Studies forecast the overall contribution to the HVACR industry will be 2.5 million jobs and $621 billion in economic output by 2027.
The AIM Act gives needed certainty to the HVACR industry, delivers a streamlined regulatory procedure and provides consumers with more efficient cooling and refrigeration products. The AIM Act, which has a companion bipartisan bill in the United States Senate introduced by Senators. Kennedy (R-LA) and Carper (D-DE), has three main prongs: a market-based allocation system for the producers of HFC compounds that gradually phases down their production and use, a flexible program for future user sectors to achieve the transition of the user technology sectors, and a heightened emphasis for improved management of refrigerant substances where relevant.
Passage of the AIM Act would accomplish several things. It would gradually phase down the production and consumption of HFCs over a 15-year period via an allowance allocation and trading program. It would authorize the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to establish standards for the management of HFCs used as refrigerants, such as in equipment servicing and repair. Finally, it would allow for a sale and recovery of used HFC’s for purification and resale, allowing for a safe and efficient transition out of HFC’s. Authorizing EPA to establish sector-based use restrictions as a way to facilitate transitions to next-generation refrigerant technologies.
If you would like more information, please contact Catherine Treadwell Perry at email@example.com.
- Six Democratic presidential candidates faced off in the final debate before the Iowa caucuses, with a big focus on foreign policy and national security following this month's U.S.-Iran tensions.
- Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) accused Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) of calling her a liar on national television during a tense exchange following Tuesday night's debate in Iowa, according to a video with audio released by CNN. The moment came after it was reported that Sanders told Warren in 2018 that he did not believe a woman could win the presidency.
- Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) dropped his bid for the Democratic presidential nomination. His exit left just one black candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, remaining in the 12-candidate primary race.
- A U.S. cybersecurity firm said Russian hackers have targeted emails from the Ukrainian energy firm Burisma, where Biden's son Hunter Biden served on the board. The hacking has been linked to Russia's Main Directorate of Military Intelligence, the same group that breached the Democratic National Committee in 2016 as part of Moscow's efforts to interfere in the last presidential election.
- House Republican Conference Chairwoman Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) said she will not run for the open Senate seat in Wyoming. The announcement eliminates at least one potential high-profile challenger to former Rep. Cynthia Lummis, who is seeking the party's nomination to replace retiring Republican Sen. Mike Enzi, though other candidates could still jump into the contest.
- Trump scored two trade victories: The Senate voted 89-10 to send Trump's revised North American trade agreement to the president's desk. And, the United States and China signed a "phase-one" agreement to ease trade tensions between the two countries, though a number of issues - including Chinese subsidies to domestic companies and the behavior of Chinese state-owned firms - were delayed until later rounds of talks that aren't expected to conclude until after the 2020 U.S. elections.
- The China trade deal signed by Trump will pause the trade war between the two countries, including terms such as stricter rules on intellectual property in China. The deal does not, however, address commercial cybertheft in China and the country's robust industrial subsidies.
- The "big" health care issues House Democrats intend to prioritize this year are surprise billing, prescription drug prices and solidifying protections for pre-existing conditions, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said in an interview. It's "possible" that the House moves on surprise billing legislation prior to the May 22 funding expiration date of several health care programs, Hoyer said, though Democrats haven't committed to a timeline.
- Three Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee have taken steps to "reactivate the investigation" into Purdue Pharma LP, Mallinckrodt PLC and Insys Therapeutics Inc. over their alleged roles in fueling the opioid crisis. Reps. Greg Walden (Ore.), Brett Guthrie (Ky.) and Morgan Griffith (Va.) sent letters to the drugmakers, following up on information requests tied to the opioid epidemic that they previously made in August 2018.
- The Trump administration is reportedly preparing to release its proposed replacement for the Obama-era Waters of the U.S. rule as soon as today, when President Donald Trump and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler are scheduled to attend the American Farm Bureau Federation's convention in Austin, Texas. While the exact details of the proposal or the timing of its release have not been made public, the Trump administration's 2018 revisions called for removing about half of the country's wetlands and millions of miles of streams from environmental protections.
- The U.S. Government Accountability Office accepted a request from corn state lawmakers to review the EPA's granting of 31 exemption waivers in the 2018 compliance year from biofuel blending requirements, according to a GAO letter. The request was submitted by Reps. Abby Finkenauer (D-Iowa), Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) and Rodney Davis (R-Ill.)
- The Energy Department estimates that U.S. crude oil production hit a record-high 13 million barrels per day earlier this month.
- In a 2-1 ruling, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed a lawsuit brought forward by a group of young people - ages 8 to 19 when the suit was filed in 2015 - that accused the federal government of violating their constitutional rights by not addressing the effects of climate change. The federal appeals court ruled in its majority opinion that the courts do not have the authority to demand the government create regulations regarding emissions and pollution. (The Wall Street Journal)
- The Senate began its trial into House-passed articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump, with Chief Justice John Roberts sworn in to preside over proceedings.
- Along with voting to send its articles to the Senate, the House announced the selection of seven Democrats to prosecute its case against the president, including House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.). The 228-193 vote came almost a month after the House impeached Trump.
- The House will be out of session, while the Senate will begin the impeachment trial of President Trump.
| || NEWS FROM STATE AND LOCAL |
Update on State Bills Being Tracked
New State Activity
- Wisconsin (SB423) - Lead testing of potable water sources in certain schools; providing loans for lead remediation in certain schools; and providing an exception to referendum restrictions for lead remediation. Action: amended to add “or to remediate lead contamination in a school with which the town, village, city, or county has contracted.”
- Wisconsin (SB424) - Testing for lead in drinking water in facilities used for recreational and educational camps and child care. Action: Placed on calendar 1-21-2020 pursuant to Senate Rule 18(1).
- Virginia (HB797) - Local school boards; lead testing, report, parental notification. Action: 5 new sponsors joined in support of the bill.
- Washington (SB5115) - Concerning appliance and plumbing fixture efficiency standards. Action: by resolution, bill was reintroduced without change.
- Hawaii (SB2561) - All retailers of household appliances doing business in the State shall conspicuously display signage or text on household appliances in a font size no smaller than one-half inch which informs consumers of the following: Available energy efficiency rebates; and Hawaii-specific energy costs for operation.
- Arizona (HB2567) - Appropriation; lead screening; charter schools
- Virginia (SB963) - Establishes the Commonwealth Efficient and Resilient Buildings Board to advise the Governor, the Virginia Public Building Authority and requires the head of each state agency to designate an existing employee, known as an energy manager, who shall be responsible for implementing improvements to state buildings to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve energy efficiency and climate change resiliency.
- New Jersey (S702) - Requires landlords to disclose existence of lead service lines and lead water supply plumbing to tenants.
- New Jersey (A1652) - Requires institutions of higher education to test for lead in drinking water annually, report test results, and install lead filters or treatment devices.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is seeking public input to help with the creation of the Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program (HBIIP), a new program that will expand the availability of domestic ethanol and biodiesel by incentivizing the expansion of sales of renewable fuels
Joe Biden accused Bernie Sanders’ campaign Saturday of issuing a “doctored video” to attack him over Social Security, a false claim that ratcheted up the tension between the two campaigns in the run-up to the Iowa caucuses. “Let’s get the record straight,” Biden said at Simpson College here. “There’s a little, doctored video going around ... saying I agreed with Paul Ryan, the former vice presidential candidate, about wanting to privatize Social Security.”
With President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial just two days away, the battle over whether to call witnesses during the proceedings, including former national security adviser John Bolton, continues to heat up. Several of the House managers for the impeachment trial, including Reps. Adam Schiff of California, Jerry Nadler and Hakeem Jeffries of New York, and Jason Crow of Colorado, appeared on Sunday news shows to urge the Senate to allow new witnesses and evidence during the process as they seek to oust Trump from office.
The Trump administration is proposing scaling back a bedrock federal environmental law to make it easier to build infrastructure like roads and pipelines by sidestepping concerns about climate change and imposing strict deadlines on federal agencies. The National Environmental Policy Act requires agencies to conduct detailed environmental reviews for major projects that receive federal funding or permits and could significantly affect the environment, such as by increasing air pollution or bulldozing wildlife habitat.
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