I’m not the greatest eater. I enjoy greasy pizza and beer, and while I recognize this is not the most efficient fuel for my body, it tastes good.
Sure, raw pumpkin super chips and organic oats with goigi berries would be more ideal nutritional choices, but these items are expensive, and, frankly, salty French fries taste much better.
Scratch that last order. Let’s make it a side of American fries. Because, here in America, we still have the freedom to choose what we eat for dinner, regardless how unhealthy it is — at least for now.
CONGRESS COUNTS CALORIES
What if the government dictated our diets?
Imagine a world where government agencies mandate what, when, and how much we consume. To reach these metrics, standards and test procedures would categorize foods based on ingredients, calories, trans fats, etc. Research conducted in labs would define foods that are too unhealthy to consume. Subsequent public comment periods would be held, drawing comments from several parties, including those who create, package, deliver, cook, serve, and consume these scrutinized foods. Eventually, a direct final rule would be written. And, despite all the expert opinions expressed during the public comment period, government would create the rule, because government knows best, right?
Instantly, our flame-broiled hamburgers, sugary sodas, and cherry-topped cheesecakes would go the way of the dinosaur in favor of healthier, more nutritional options designed to pad long-term health and human efficiency.
REGULATORY ACCOUNTABILITY ACT
While this hypothetical scenario certainly hinges on the boundaries of absurd for the food and beverage industry, it’s become reality for the HVAC industry.
Government regulations have been forced down the proverbial throats of HVACR manufacturers, distributors, and contractors for decades.
Back in 2000, government planted the seeds of a minimum a/c efficiency performance increase that would raise the level from 10 SEER to 13 SEER in 2006.
That was followed by the nearly 10-year saga known as regional standards, which included a lawsuit spearheaded by Heating, Air-conditioning, and Refrigeration Distributors International (HARDI) that accused the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) of not following its own rules.
In 2014, Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI) petitioned the U.S. Court of Appeals, contesting the DOE failed to take all stakeholder comments into account when promulgating a rule regarding certain commercial refrigeration equipment efficiency standards.
And, currently, the industry finds itself in a battle against the government’s desire to increase minimum-efficiency levels for residential, nonweatherized natural gas furnaces from the current 80 percent AFUE to 92 percent AFUE, which would effectively eliminate noncondensing furnaces in the U.S.
ENOUGH IS ENOUGH
ACCA, HARDI, Mechanical Contractors Association of America (MCAA), and 378 other associations from across the U.S. recently sent Speaker of the House Paul Ryan a letter asking him to make the Regulatory Accountability Act an early priority for the 115th Congress.
The letter stated, “We believe that federal regulations should be narrowly tailored, supported by strong and credible data and evidence, and impose the least burden possible, while still implementing congressional intent. … When agencies produce regulations that diverge from these key principles, there must be a way of holding agencies accountable.”
Essentially, the authors of this letter are pleading for government accountability — accountability to follow its own rules when it comes to creating laws; accountability to listen to the experts who create, package, deliver, install, service, and consume targeted equipment; and accountability to reconsider unfeasible, expensive efficiency standards that may never deliver the promised return on investment.
While the Regulatory Accountability Act passed the House in January 2015, it’s been stuck in neutral ever since. And, even if it escaped the Senate, Obama threatened to veto it upon arrival.
Well, there’s a new sheriff in town, and President-elect Trump has vowed to cut two regulations for every new one created. ACCA, MCAA, and HARDI smell blood in the water, and the timing of this letter couldn’t be any better.
I’m not saying all regulations are bad; however, the frequency and quantity at which they’ve been delivered lately has certainly been problematic. (I received 110 HVAC-related regulatory notices in my inbox from the DOE in 2016).
Let’s hope a new administration is willing to heed the advice of industry professionals when crafting regulations and take a closer look at the economic impact on the industry and consumers as a whole rather than yearning for the highest efficiency percentages imaginable.
If and when that occurs, we can all get together and celebrate with a couple of large pizzas and ice cold beers — assuming government still grants us the freedom to do so.
Publication date: 12/19/2016