Senator Helming and local small businesses are calling on the state to pause new refrigerant standards

Senator Pam Helming and area grocery store owners joined today in calling on the state to pause the near-effective date of the new hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) refrigerant standards and allow for a more reasonable transition timeline.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is reviewing proposed amendments to its HFC phase-out regulations, which include a ban on new products and equipment containing HFCs on January 1, 2025, as well as the sale of certain refrigerants. HFCs are commonly used in refrigeration and HVAC equipment. It is being considered whether these regulations will meet the requirements of the broad climate law adopted in 2019.

The problem is that these laws, as currently written, would have a devastating impact on the retail grocery industry, including independent grocers and convenience stores, many of which are located in food deserts, to the largest supermarkets doing business in New York State. Companies are asking DEC to bring their policies in line with federal standards.

Senator Helming said: “As we take steps to protect the environment, we must also protect our small businesses, local jobs and access to food in our communities. The grocery and convenience store operators I talked to are reasonable – no one is asking for the abolition of this regulation. They simply demand that it be consistent with federal government standards and implemented within a more realistic time frame. We should help businesses grow without compromising their viability or the livelihoods of the people they employ and the people and communities they serve.”

Deric M. West, owner of Honeoye Falls Marketplace and Mendon Meadows Marketplace employing more than 130 people, said: “NYS DEC’s proposals to almost immediately ban commonly used refrigerants in commercial properties and supermarkets will spread food deserts in urban and rural areas, limit consumer choices, and trigger significant food price inflation around the world. NYS. The state DEC must align its future refrigerant regulations with the latest pragmatic standards adopted by the state of California, the U.S. federal government and the international Montreal Protocol. These entities have developed detailed protocols for phasing out hydrofluorocarbons that rely on the cooperation of a wide range of stakeholders who will be impacted by these regulations. We are asking NYS DEC to work with the supermarket industry to implement comprehensive reforms that will improve the quality of life for all New Yorkers, while protecting and preserving the environment for future generations.

Michael Durant, president and CEO of the New York State Food Industry Association, stated: “The New York State Food Industry Association, which represents the full spectrum of New York’s retail food industry, has serious concerns about the economic impact that proposed refrigerant regulations will have on our industry. From a limited supply of potential alternatives to costs exceeding $1 million for a shelving system to retrofit existing stores, this proposal will threaten the viability of existing retail grocery stores and likely lead to an increase in the number of food-insecure communities. We thank Senator Helming and many of her colleagues for continuing to highlight this problematic proposal, and we strongly urge the Governor and the Department of Environmental Protection to radically change their proposed approach to refrigerants.”

Paul Zuber, executive vice president of the New York State Business Council, stated: “The Business Council joins the voices of other business groups and individual employers who are asking the state to reconsider proposed HFC regulations that will adversely impact many New York businesses, including small businesses that already comply with many of the guidelines regarding safety at both the state and federal levels. “New York should protect its environment, businesses and homeowners by aligning its policies with standards set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and allowing the continued use of low-impact products in the long term.”

The cost of retrofitting stores to adapt them to new standards is estimated in millions of dollars. There are also supply chain challenges that currently limit the availability of alternative refrigerants and equipment that meet the proposed standards, as well as the availability of trained contractors and technicians.

Other small businesses at today’s press conference at the Honeoye Falls Marketplace include Joey’s Northside Grocery in Newark; Caledonia Market; Bliss Shurfine Food Mart, Manchester; West’s Shurfine Food Markets, Honeoye and Livonia; Busters Market, Scottsville; Van Ernst Refrigeration, East Rochester; and Mendon Town Supervisor John Moffitt and Honeoye Falls Mayor Richard Milne.