WASHINGTON – In a move supported by both environmental groups and industry associations, the Environmental Protection Agency finalized standards that will phase out the most climate-warming hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) in key applications — from aerosols to heat pumps; supermarket refrigerators to vehicle air conditioners.
At the same time, EPA proposed new rules to cut refrigerant leakage, promote reclamation and reuse, and mandate the use of reclaimed refrigerant when making and servicing many new products. These EPA rules are two key pieces of implementing the American Innovation and Manufacturing (AIM) Act, the climate law enacted in 2020 to cut the use of these super-pollutants by 85% over 15 years.
The following is a comment from Alex Hillbrand, a technical director in the industry team at NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council):
“Pound for pound, HFCs are one of the most potent sources of climate pollution, and this is a significant step forward in reducing the products that use them. Climate-friendlier alternatives to these HFCs are available that make these products work as well as – or better than – before.
“Industry, environmental advocates and lawmakers from both parties are united in support of phasing down the use of these super pollutants. Now we will need to get to work bringing these climate-friendlier appliances to market while preventing the release of HFCs already in use out in the world.”
EPA is taking two separate steps today. It has finalized regulations to shift selected appliances and other key products away from HFCs where ready alternatives are available. And it is proposing new rules to limit leaks and encourage recycling of the HFCs already in use. A previous rule issued this summer continues the phasedown of HFC production and import.
The two EPA actions taken today build on petitions filed by NRDC and others to implement the AIM Act. That 2020 legislation requires the EPA to phase down HFC production and import 85 percent over the next 15 years, to cut HFC use when there are ready alternatives, and to curb leaks and promote recycling. The HFC phasedown, including these rules, has the support of both industry and environmental groups.
The EPA final rule covers a wide range of products and processes where climate-friendlier alternatives are available, including cooling equipment such as commercial, industrial and residential refrigeration, car and building air-conditioning, heat pumps, and other HFC uses such as aerosols and insulation foams. Under the new rule, products will be redesigned within the next few years to use HFC-free alternatives or less damaging HFCs.
For more information, please see this blog post.
NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 3 million members and online activists. Established in 1970, NRDC uses science, policy, law, and people power to confront the climate crisis, protect public health, and safeguard nature. NRDC has offices in New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Bozeman, MT, Beijing and Delhi (an office of NRDC India Pvt. Ltd). Visit us at www.nrdc.org and follow us on Twitter @NRDC.