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Last month, Republicans took over the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives in a sweeping electoral victory, but that doesn’t mean that heating and air conditioning professionals can hope for a slowdown in government regulations that affect their line of work.
Some experts are theorizing that the end of a government gridlock (spurred by a Republican majority and an influx of more moderate Republicans) will advance energy legislation that will help the HVAC industry, but others are not so optimistic.
The power shift will also mean that committees important to shaping the future of the HVAC industry will change hands, like the House Committees on Small Business, Oversight, Ways and Means, as well as various Senate committees. The GOP takeover in these areas will likely have a more significant impact than in overall house and senate activities.
“AHRI has worked well with past chairmen as well as the incoming heads of pertinent committees,” Guido Zucconi, assistant vice president of congressional affairs for the Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI) told ACHRnews.com. “We expect to continue to work on a bipartisan basis, especially in the Senate, where the minority party remains an integral part of the legislative process.”
Right now, it looks likely that regulations out of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will keep coming at a rapid-fire pace, despite Zucconi’s attempts to work with Congress to improve the supervision of regulatory agency practices.
“Anybody who is anticipating a slowdown in the speed of regulatory action is going to be disappointed,” Jon Melchi, director of government affairs for Heating, Air-conditioning, and Refrigeration Distributors International (HARDI told ACHRnews.com. “There’s been nothing that indicates regulatory action will slow down.”
Industry experts are also keeping a close eye on standards being developed by the EPA that would affect power plant emissions as well as rules in the works through the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) that would regulate the ability to work in confined spaces alone.
“The HVAC industry has been adapting dramatically for over a decade to keep up with regulations from the DOE and EPA. Our industry is constantly moving to more energy efficient system and practices,” says Bo Thomas, President, Thomas HVAC. “The result has been a reduction in energy consumption by HVAC systems which account for more energy usage than anything else in a typical home or office. The key, now more than ever, is making sure the people working in the HVAC industry are receiving the proper training and are given the proper tools and equipment to keep these new systems running at peak efficiency. We dedicate more time and money than ever before to constant training and learning better practices to make sure these systems are working properly and efficiently.”
However, until the new government officially takes over, HVAC experts can only speculate about how a Republican House and Senate will affect them.