EPA Moves On HFCs

Department calls proposed rule on hydroflourocarbons “among the most significant environmental laws in recent years”

In an announcement that could have a major impact on the HVAC/R industry, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is officially proposing its first rule under the American Innovation and Manufacturing (AIM) Act of 2020 to phase down the production and consumption of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), which it calls “highly potent greenhouse gases” that are commonly used in refrigerators, air conditioners, and many other applications.

While the rule proposal and act are being heralded as groundbreaking, the projected timeline illustrates the lengthy outlook required for enacting environmental change through policy, as the stated target isn’t until the end of this century.

“The AIM Act directs EPA to sharply reduce production and consumption of these harmful pollutants by using an allowance allocation and trading program,” said a May 3 EPA press release. “This phasedown will decrease the production and import of HFCs in the United States by 85% over the next 15 years. A global HFC phasedown is expected to avoid up to 0.5 °C of global warming by 2100.”

Immediate feedback via our own Twitter interactions and the media in general suggests that many see this as a polarizing political issue; whether or not the previous administration supported the Act is debated due to the timing of certain EPA issued-statements, such as this one from late last year.

“With this proposal, EPA is taking another significant step under President Biden’s ambitious agenda to address the climate crisis,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan. “By phasing down HFCs, which can be hundreds to thousands of times more powerful than carbon dioxide at warming the planet, EPA is taking a major action to help keep global temperature rise in check. The phasedown of HFCs is also widely supported by the business community, as it will help promote American leadership in innovation and manufacturing of new climate-safe products. Put simply, this action is good for our planet and our economy.”


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