EPA Continues Phasedown of Super-Polluting HFCs

by | Jul 12, 2023

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The EPA has announced a rule that will reduce super-polluting hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), commonly found in cooling systems, by 40% from 2024 through 2028.

This rule follows a 10% phasedown step that was implemented for 2022 to 2023 and marks a continuance of HFC reduction outlined in the American Innovation and Manufacturing Act.

HFCs have a global warming potential that can be thousands times greater than carbon dioxide, according to the EPA. The ruling follows Senate approval of the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol, an agreement to phase down HFCs globally. The full phasedown will reduce consumption of the damaging chemicals by 85% by 2036 and should help avoid up to 0.5 degrees Celsius of global warming by 2100.

“This rulemaking is a critical next step in the Biden-Harris Administration’s ambitious plans to phase down climate super-pollutants and ensure the United States leads the way as countries around the world implement the Kigali Amendment,” said Joe Goffman, principal deputy assistant administrator of EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation. “The U.S. HFC phasedown program, bolstered by domestic innovation to develop alternative chemicals and equipment, is paving the way for the United States to tackle climate change and strengthen global competitiveness.”

HFC Phasedown Program Enforcements Ensure Level Playing Field

Reduction of HFC production and imports began in January of 2022, and HFC allowances have since been required to import and produce HFCs. Along with these allowances, enforcement mechanisms have been put in place to ensure that companies complying with the HFC requirements are not at an economic disadvantage.

Beyond these regulations, a task force on illegal HFC trade, co-led by the EPA and Department of Homeland Security, has helped prevent the equivalent of more than 1 million metric tons of carbon dioxide from illegally traded HFCs at the border.

Administrative consequences for non-compliance include revocation and retirement of allowances or civil or criminal enforcement action.

The EPA is also introducing two more regulatory actions to facilitate the transition to HFC alternatives: a final rule to place restrictions on certain sectors’ HFC use will be established, and rules will be implemented for managing HFC and their substitutes in equipment like air conditioners.

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