EPA to Issue Rules Restricting Use of Climate-Damaging HFCs

According to a press release published last Friday by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the agency has decided to grant or partially grant 11 petitions asking it to restrict the use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) in the refrigeration and air conditioning, aerosols, and foam sectors. The EPA now has two years to propose and finalize rulemakings.

According to the agency, the petitions were submitted pursuant to the American Innovation and Manufacturing (AIM) Act. The bipartisan legislation reportedly authorizes the EPA to address HFCs, potent greenhouse gases that exacerbate climate change, in three main areas.

First, it permits phasing down the production and consumption of certain HFCs, second, the Act enables “maximizing reclamation and minimizing releases of these gases and their substitutes in equipment such as refrigerators and air conditioners,” and third, it facilitates the transition to next-generation technologies by restricting certain sectors and subsectors’ use of HFCs. Last week’s action falls under the third authority, the press release says.

The EPA granted ten of the 11 petitions in their entirety after examining their contents and other AIM Act factors including the availability of substitutes, the overall economic costs, and the environmental impacts. The press release notes that granting a petition does not mean the EPA will propose or finalize requirements identical to those requested.

Relatedly, the EPA’s Administrator Michael S. Regan signed a final rule, “Phasedown of Hydrofluorocarbons: Establishing the Allowance Allocation and Trading Program under the AIM Act” several weeks ago. The new provision reportedly establishes a comprehensive program to cap and phase down the production and consumption of HFCs by 85% by 2036.

“Today’s actions are another step forward in advancing President Biden’s commitment to tackle the climate crisis, as we work to phase down and restrict the use of super-polluting HFCs as Congress directed,” Regan said in a statement. “In less than a year, EPA has already begun implementing the AIM Act to build a strong foundation, moving the United States away from these climate-damaging chemicals.”