On Monday, March 30, 2020, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in the Federal Register proposing changes to its Motor Vehicle Air Conditioner (MVAC) regulations. 85 Fed. Reg. 17520-17527 (Mar. 30, 2020). In its notice, EPA proposes the incorporation by reference of three standards developed by SAE International (SAE) for MVAC equipment that recovers, recycles and/or recharges the refrigerant HFO-1234yf/R-1234yf. The three SAE standards are:
- SAE J2843 (revised July 2019), “R– 1234yf [HFO–1234yf] Recovery/ Recycling/Recharging Equipment for Flammable Refrigerants for Mobile Air-Conditioning Systems,” which establishes standards for equipment that recovers, recycles and/or recharges R– 1234yf in MVACs and applies to equipment intended for use with R– 1234yf refrigerant only.
- SAE J2851 (revised February 2015), “Recovery Equipment for Contaminated R–134a or R–1234yf Refrigerant from Mobile Air Conditioning Systems,” which establishes minimum performance and operating standards for equipment that recovers contaminated R–134a and/or R–1234yf refrigerant from MVACs.
- SAE J3030 (revised July 2015), “Automotive Refrigerant Recovery/ Recycling/Recharging Equipment Intended for use with Both R–1234yf and R–134a,” which establishes the minimum requirements for recovery/recycling/recharging equipment intended for use to service MVACs that contain either R–1234yf or R–134a.
The proposed rule would apply to entities that meet the applicability criteria under Section 609 of the Clean Air Act, 42 U.S.C. § 7671h, and 40 C.F.R. Part 82 subpart B and may include: new and used car dealers; general automotive repair shops, automotive repair shops not categorized elsewhere, including air conditioning and radiator repair specialty shops and other vehicle parts manufacturing.
EPA notes in its proposed rule that there has been a significant increase in the use of HFO-1234yf/R-123yf since 2013, which now accounts for almost 40% of the new U.S. vehicle fleet. The goal of adopting the three SAE standards is to assist technicians choosing to repair or service MVACs containing HFO-1234yf/R–1234yf to properly use approved refrigerant handling equipment when performing any service involving the refrigerant.
EPA’s proposed rule will make the following amendments to existing regulations including:
- Allowing servicing equipment manufactured to meet SAE J2843, J2851 and J3030 and be certified by the EPA or an independent standards testing organization approved by the EPA if servicing MVACs using HFO-1234yf/R-1234yf.
- Updating the 40 C.F.R. § 82.32(e)(1) definition of the term “properly using” to add the proposed standards to the list of recommended service procedures and practices for the containment of the refrigerant.
- Adding to 40 C.F.R. § 82.40 the proposed standards to the list of standards that any technician training program seeking approval must demonstrate that they are covered by their certification tests, and stating that “[i]t would be appropriate for approved technician training and certification programs to update their materials to reflect the standards…and to submit a summary of the conforming changes to [EPA] as part of the summary required by 40 C.F.R. § 40.82(c).”
- Amending Appendix F to subpart B of part 82 to add standards for recovery equipment for MVACs containing HFO-1234yf/R–1234yf.
Public comments on the proposed rule are due by May 14, 2020.
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