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Climate Change Hero

Climate Change Blog

  • 12
  • November
  • 2015

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The Obama Administration Announces New Measures Aimed at Limiting HFCs

On October 15, 2015, the Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) announced its proposal for updated measures to curb emissions of ozone-depleting refrigerants (primarily chlorofluorocarbons (“CFCs”)) and certain non-ozone-depleting substitute refrigerants, including hydrofluorocarbons (“HFCs”). If adopted, these rules could significantly impact owners and operators of industrial and commercial refrigeration and air-conditioning equipment. HFCs were widely used as a substitute for ozone-depleting CFC refrigerants when the CAA phased out use of CFCs. Now EPA seeks to phase out the HFCs because of climate change effects.

Section 608(a) of the Clean Air Act requires EPA to promulgate regulations governing the use and disposal of ozone-depleting substances that will reduce emissions from such substances to the lowest achievable level and maximize the recycling of such substances. Section 608(c) prohibits any person from knowingly venting or releasing into the environment any ozone-depleting or non-ozone-depleting substitute refrigerant while maintaining, repairing, or disposing of air-conditioning or refrigeration appliances or industrial process refrigeration. EPA initially issued regulations related to ozone-depleting substances in 1993.

Pursuant to Section 608, EPA issued a proposed rule that would update and expand existing regulatory requirements under the National Recycling and Emission Reduction Program found at 40 CFR Part 82, Subpart F. The Agency proposes to update those requirements applicable to persons that sell, manufacture, own, operate, maintain, or dispose of ozone-depleting refrigerants. Proposed updates would include requiring a number of industry best practices, strengthening leak repair requirements, and establishing recordkeeping requirements for the disposal of certain appliances.

Perhaps more significantly, the proposed rule would extend those requirements to non-ozone-depleting substitute refrigerants, such as HFCs. The proposed rule was published in the Federal Register on November 9, 2015 and will be open to public comment for 60 days after that date.

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