Worth the Effort: Working Together to Resolve Government Restrictions and Regulations

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Worth the Effort: Working Together to Resolve Government Restrictions and Regulations

By Diane M. Calabrese / Published July 2014



Rule 4308


Meet or surpass standards established by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). That, in short, must be the goal for any state or local plan for reducing emissions of potential air pollutants. Broad power encompassing establishment of standards and verification of plans resides with the administrator of the EPA.

States and regions may develop their own plans for meeting requirements that ultimately derive from the Clean Air Act (1970). There can be a significant opportunity for industry leaders to provide information to regional regulators because fewer players are involved than at the national level. And by working with regulators at a regional level, industry leaders often can influence outcomes across the country.

“As goes California, so goes the nation” may not apply in all matters of life, but it is substantially true with respect to environmental regulations. Rules implemented in the Golden State are frequently tapped as models elsewhere.

In the September 2013 issue of Cleaner Times | IWA, The CETA Edge column focused on the way that collaborating on industry regulations results in benefits to all concerned. One example cited was the manner in which members of CETA had worked with the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) in California to formulate a definition of a power pressure washer that reflects the perspective of manufacturers and the requirements of SCAQMD.

Taking a lead in the discussions with SCAQMD on behalf of our industry’s members was Dr. Marlo Dean, the Senior Support Services Manager at Kärcher North America in Camas, WA. Dean and other members of the Cleaning Equipment Trade Association (CETA) Technical Committee accomplished much by negotiating with SCAQMD: Pressure washers were removed from SCAQMD Rule 1147 (NOx Reductions from Miscellaneous Sources) to Rule 219 (Equipment Not Requiring a Written Permit Pursuant to Regulation II).

The transition of power pressure washers to Rule 219 acknowledged their typically mobile nature and the difficulty of configuring them with emission controls. (In addition, stationary units were determined to have a rated heat input capacity so small that add-on controls are not feasible.)

SCAQMD Rule 219 exempts diesel-fired pressure washers with a maximum heat capacity of 0.55 MMBtu/hr or less. The exemption covers an estimated 96 percent of pressure washers in use in the SCAQMD. It enables operation of a pressure washer without a SCAQMD permit fee. (An operation filing fee is still required each year, but it is approximately one-ninth as costly as a permit fee of more than $1,350 required to meet Rule 1147.)

Involvement Matters

Recently, Dean shared with us the San Joaquin Valley Unified Air Pollution Control District (Valley Air District) Draft Staff Report of August 22, 2013, which included Draft Amendments to Rule 4308. In refining its Rule 4308, the Valley Air District recommended the addition of an exemption for hot-water pressure washers. In doing so, the Valley Air District cited the action SCAQMD had taken with Rule 219. The sequence—the sharing of approaches between pollution-control entities—provides a demonstration of the reminder from Dean that once adopted, a rule in one region often serves as a model for another region.

When we consulted Dean some two months prior to the publication of this issue, he believed that the Valley Air District Rule 4308 would be approved. The board of the Valley Air District had approved the amendment to exempt hot-water pressure washers, and the District was in the process of going through the public hearing process prior to final approval.

The process of working with regulators is best approached as just that: a process—or an ongoing effort to get something done that requires many changes. There are adjustments along the way.

It was almost six years ago that Dean made his first contact with SCAQMD. Agreement over the definition of a pressure washer, which took three years, was one of the first priorities. It entailed clarifying that a pressure washer does not belong in the same (emissions) source category as an instantaneous water heater and boilers.

“This was an industry effort with competitors putting aside their differences—working together to resolve government restrictions and regulations relating to our industry,” says Dean. “Alan Greer from Hydro Tek needs credit because without his help, it would have been more difficult.”

Having worked with SCAQMD on Rule 219 and with the Valley Air District on Rule 4308, Dean has some advice to share. “We need to work together, united by our association CETA,” he says. A strong, coherent, and aggregate voice facilitates negotiation about regulations that have the potential to negatively impact the industry.

The willingness of CETA members to assist Dean and other members of the technical committee has been a crucial part of the committee’s success. “I needed information from the major pressure washer manufacturers,” says Dean. “And the cooperation from Mi-T-M, Alkota, AaLadin, Hotsy, Landa, Shark, and Kärcher was amazing. Without this cooperation, we would not have accomplished this difficult task.”

Since its inception, the technical committee of CETA has been a very busy group. “I was first asked by Gregg Brodsky, a sales manager at Alkota Cleaning Systems, Inc., who served as CETA president in 2009, in 2008 to form a technical committee to work on issues facing our industry,” says Dean. “There were several issues or concerns Brodsky wanted this committee to address, including the UL 1776 harmonization project and the SCAQMD emission regulations.”

Today, the CETA Technical Com-mittee remains a significant force for the industry. “We try to look at the present issues that impact our industry and at least make an effort to resolve these issues,” explains Dean. “Without CETA, who is going to lobby for our industry?”

The technical committee necessarily uses a wide scope. “We try to keep up on ever-changing regulations, which requires investigation into EPA; CARB; OSHA; DOE; EMC; AFUE; Prop 65; SCAQMD; ASME;NSF; NFPA; CEC; NEC; and the IEC, UL, and CSA safety standards,” says Dean. That’s just a partial list. “There are others not mentioned that could impact our industry.”

Involvement with regulators is a must. Wishful thinking—that it will all work out absent input from industry members being regulated—is just that. Good intentions— thinking that all regulations are all being met without being absolutely certain—are also insufficient.

“The fines and penalties for companies found not in compliance are severe and could be devastating,” says Dean. “Our attitude is to be proactive and address regulatory issues head on…”

Members of our industry can assist the CETA Technical Committee. “They can help us keep aware of problems facing our industry, allowing us to work through CETA to resolve these issues for the good of our industry,” says Dean.

Manufacturers, distributors, and contractors must understand that the treatment of pressure washers by air quality regulators is more than an academic matter. “They need to be aware that regulations and restrictions are becoming a concern and local governments are enforcing these regulations,” says Dean.