The successful partnership with food retailers, which has led to many natural refrigerant installations, would be potentially transferred to a “non-government entity”.
The Trump administration’s 2018 budget submission to Congress targets the elimination of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s GreenChill Partnership, a successful voluntary program supported by numerous U.S. supermarket chains, according to an internal EPA memorandum published by the Washington Post.
GreenChill, launched in 2008, would be one of several other EPA Climate Partnership voluntary programs impacting the HVAC&R industry that would be eliminated – and potentially transferred to a “non-governmental entity” – under the budget proposal, including Energy Star, Green Power Partnership, Combined Heat and Power Partnership and SmartWay.
The purpose of the proposed program cuts is to “[free up] resources from voluntary programs to re-prioritize funding for programs tethered to statutes,” said Julia Valentine, an EPA spokesperson, in an email response to R744.com.
“The purpose of the proposed program cuts is to “[free up] resources from voluntary programs to re-prioritize funding for programs tethered to statutes.”
– Julia Valentine, EPA spokesperson
The EPA memorandum was written by David Bloom, the Acting Chief Financial Officer and dated March 21, 2017. Under “NPM [National Program Manager] Specific Policy Direction," it states that the Office of Air and Radiation (OAR), working with the Office of General Counsel (OGC) “should begin developing legislative options and associated groundwork for transferring ownership and implementation of Energy Star to a non-governmental entity. OAR also should explore similar transfer opportunities for the remaining partnership programs. OAR should work with OCFO [Office of the Chief Financial Officer] and OGC to identify any legislative language needed to transfer voluntary programs.”
The GreenChill program has helped participating food retailers, on average, to reduce refrigerant emissions (mostly HFCs and HCFCs with high global warming potentials) from 25% to 12.5%, according to EPA data. The program’s store certification program has recognized the installation of numerous natural refrigerant systems, including 18 transcritical CO2 systems in 2015 and through mid-March 2016. Major food retailers participating in GreenChill include Kroger, Albertsons, Whole Foods Market, Food Lion, Hannaford Supermarkets, Aldi, Giant Eagle, Publix, Meijer, Raley's, Sprout’s Farmers Market, and Weis.
The EPA has estimated that of supermarkets nationwide reduced emissions to the current GreenChill average of 12.5%, they would generate cost savings of $169 million in refrigerant replacement costs while preventing the annual emission of 29 million metric tons of carbon dioxide-equivalent and 196 tons of ozone depletion potential (ODP).
In addition to the elimination of voluntary programs, the Trump budget calls for the reduction of $629,000 and four full-time employees in the Stratospheric Ozone Domestic Programs, which include the Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP) program, which approves and delists refrigerants, and refrigerant management requirements under Section 608 of the Clean Air Act. “The program should prioritize work on the most critical alternative chemicals,” the memorandum said. The budget would also eliminate the Stratospheric Ozone Multilateral Fund (encompassing $8,928,000), which assists developing countries meet their Montreal Protocol commitments.
The Trump budget calls for an overall cut to the EPA’s budget of 31%.
A complete memorandum on the Trump budget proposal can be found here.