December 2020

Regulatory Issues

Final CARB workshop for 2020

On Nov. 10, 2020, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) held its final workshop for this round of amendments to its Consumer Products volatile organic compound (VOC) regulation.

There were a few changes to its proposal. First, CARB staff decided to suspend any further work on its attempt to use company website product claims to categorize products. Industry has been working on this difficult issue for more than a year. Some companies use their websites to market products all over the U.S. and globally, not just in California. Thus, a product that has multiple claims and can be marketed on the website may differ from a product being sold in California.

If the proposal had gone through as proposed, there was a very good chance that CARB Enforcement could have begun actions against companies who are selling legitimate products. CARB was very clear that the proposal is not moving ahead right now but will be back. Therefore, Industry needs to continue to work together to provide CARB a solution to this issue.

CARB believes that some companies are advertising products on their websites for uses that are not compliant in California. Whether this is the case or just perceived by CARB, Industry needs to address the issue. CARB has been attempting to use company websites to categorize products for a long time and now is the time for Industry to discuss this issue and provide a solution; this topic will not go away.

Next, CARB has proposed a solution to the Energized Electrical Cleaner topic. Currently, chlorinated solvents are still allowed to be used in this product category due to their unique characteristic of being a highly effective, non-flammable cleaning agent. However, CARB classifies these compounds as toxic and would like to limit their use to only where necessary. CARB’s first proposal basically banned the use of this product for all uses because of the threat of an enforcement action if the proper documentation for sale was not followed. The current proposal prohibits the Energized Electrical Cleaner from being used in automotive shops and prohibits sale from automotive retailers.

If these prohibitions appear draconian, one must remember that the use of chlorinated compounds in Energized Electrical Cleaners have been prohibited from use in automotive applications since 2001 due to a previous CARB regulation on toxics. Thus, only the ban on an automotive retailer selling the product is new. This new proposal does allow the Energized Electrical Cleaner to be sold at other retail outlets such as electrical supply outlets. Thus, this safety product is still compliant for sale to electricians, maintenance workers and serious do-it-yourself (DIY) customers. While not a perfect solution, at least this product will be available for use in the niche areas where safety is crucial.

A new proposal from CARB is the use of the Innovative Product Exemption (IPE) to allow the use of compressed gas for the replacement of HFC-152a propellant. CARB staff has discussed this for a long time but has never provided an actual proposal—until now. The proposal is fairly complicated and I have not yet fully reviewed all aspects.

CARB is providing this proposal to address the issue of climate change and it provides wording to ensure that higher reactivity products that cause more ozone formation are not allowed. Remember, the whole reason for VOC regulation is to reduce the amount of ozone-forming compounds. More work is needed to review this proposal.

CARB’s next step will be to release the final proposal in early January 2021 for public comment. At that time, Industry will need to speak up (this is your second-to-last chance to comment on the proposal). The Board hearing will then be at the end of February 2021 for the adoption of the amendments (this is your last chance to comment).

CARB Enforcement
The big news is that Kitty Oliver, Manager of Consumer Product Enforcement, has announced that she will retire at the end of 2020. Oliver has been in this role since 2016 and been very involved with the Consumer Products regulation amendments discussed above. Her goal was to clarify the regulation wording as much as possible.

As we wait for her replacement, we wish Oliver well in her future endeavors.

State HFC regulations
Currently, 13 States either have worked on or are working on regulations that affect hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), mainly HFC-134a. As these regulations are adopted, Industry’s primary goal is to make sure all the regulations are consistent with the aerosol exceptions in the original Significant New Alternatives Policy Program (SNAP) regulation.
Wishing everyone Happy Holidays! SPRAY