New Final Rules on HFCs

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized two rules this week aimed to reduce the projected growth and emissions of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). These are chemicals commonly used in refrigeration and air conditioning that are highly potent greenhouse gases, much more powerful than carbon dioxide.

The first rule involves the Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP) program. The EPA will be “adding to the list of safer and more climate-friendly chemicals for use in the refrigeration and air conditioning and fire suppression sectors; listing several new substitutes as unacceptable in specific end-uses in the refrigeration and air conditioning sector; and changing the status of a number of substitutes that were previously listed as acceptable in the refrigeration and air conditioning and foam blowing sectors.”

The EPA will list a substitute as unacceptable or change the status of a substitute from acceptable to unacceptable when there is an alternative that poses a lower risk to human health, the environment, or both.

The second action involves strengthening the refrigerant management program of Section 608 of the Clean Air Act and extending the regulations to include non-ozone depleting substitutes. Emissions will be reduced from this rule by lowering the leak rate at which large air conditioning and refrigerators must be repaired.

“These two rules demonstrate the United States’ continued leadership in protecting public health and the environment,” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. “We are reducing emissions of HFCs that are harmful to the climate system and showing the world that we can do this responsibly and thoughtfully by working with businesses and environmental groups. I’m especially excited that we have taken these actions ahead of next month’s Montreal Protocol negotiations.”

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