It's still unclear if the looming for non-weatherized gas furnace standards compliance date will be officially pushed back. A number of legal issues remain unresolved around the case. As the DOE missed its obligation to provide compliance regulations for regional standards by the December deadline, any attempt to enforce the May 1, 2013, compliance date could bring about further legal action.
The latest move: the Air-Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI) wrote to Energy Secretary Steven Chu at the end of February requesting, for a second time, a delay of the May 1, 2013, compliance date for the standard AHRI's first letter was sent July 30, 2012, and went unanswered.
AHRI also said it will file for a stay of the compliance date with the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. The motion will ask the court to order the Department of Energy to delay the standards.
There are a number of issues still unresolved over the new standard. Notably, a legal challenge from the American Public Gas Association remains unsettled in the courts.
The February letter, from AHRI President and CEO Stephen R. Yurek to Secretary Chu, pointed out that, with the APGA lawsuit pending, the DOE should delay the compliance date so the industry has some certainty regarding the standards.
AHRI's July 2012 letter to the DOE asked the department for an 18-month extension of the standard's compliance date of May 1, 2013. The extension was needed so furnace manufacturers would have "adequate time to prepare for compliance with regional furnace standards enforcement and product labeling requirements."
AHRI noted in the July letter that DOE had yet to publish a proposed Enforcement Rule at that time. The law required for the rule to be final by December 2012; even this would allow insufficient time for industry manufacturers to bring themselves fully into compliance.
Yurek noted in his February 2013 letter that, "contrary to the law, DOE has taken no action to move forward on the compliance regulations for regional standards. Notably, for the first time in the history of the appliance standards program, manufacturers, distributors, and contractors may have legal responsibilities that are still totally undefined."
In addition to the APGA legal challenge, the Heating Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration Distributors International filed a motion to allow it to challenge air-conditioning and heat pump standards.
The unresolved legal issues make the May 1 compliance date "even more irrational," Yurek wrote.
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