facebook linkedin twitter

EPA Completes Rule to Phase Out Gases Used as Refrigerants

September 23, 2021by Matthew Daly, Associated Press
Window air conditioners in New York. In the first Biden administration rule aimed at combating climate change, the Environmental Protection Agency is proposing to phase down production and use of hydrofluorocarbons, highly potent greenhouse gases commonly used in refrigerators and air conditioners. (AP Photo/Jenny Kane)

WASHINGTON (AP) — In what officials call a key step to combat climate change, the Environmental Protection Agency is sharply limiting domestic production and use of hydrofluorocarbons, highly potent greenhouse gases commonly used in refrigerators and air conditioners.

The new rule, which follows through on a law Congress passed last year, is intended to decrease U.S. production and use of HFCs by 85% over the next 15 years, part of a global phaseout designed to slow global warming.

HFCs are greenhouse gases that are thousands of times more powerful than carbon dioxide. They often leak through pipes or appliances that use compressed refrigerants and are considered a major driver of global warming. President Joe Biden has pledged to embrace a 2016 global agreement to greatly reduce HFCs by 2036.

White House climate adviser Gina McCarthy, a former EPA administrator, said the new rule was “a win on climate and a win on jobs and American competitiveness.”

The rule is expected to reduce harmful emissions by the equivalent of 4.5 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide by 2050, McCarthy said, a total similar to three years of emissions from the U.S. power sector.

EPA Administrator Michael Regan said the phasedown is backed by a coalition of industry groups that see it as an opportunity to “supercharge” American leadership on domestic manufacturing and production of alternative refrigerants. The industry has long been shifting to the use of alternative refrigerants and pushed for a federal standard to avoid a patchwork of state laws and regulations.

“This action reaffirms what President Biden always says — that when he thinks about climate, he thinks about jobs,” Regan said, echoing a Biden refrain about climate change. Transitioning to safer alternatives and more energy-efficient cooling technologies is expected to generate more than $270 billion in cost savings and public health benefits over the next 30 years, Regan said.

A pandemic relief and spending bill passed by Congress last December directs the EPA to sharply reduce production and use of HFCs. The measure won wide support and was hailed as the most significant climate change law in at least a decade. 

Besides targeting HFCs, the American Innovation and Manufacturing, or AIM, Act also promotes technologies to capture and store carbon dioxide produced by power and manufacturing plants and calls for reductions in diesel emissions by buses and other vehicles.

Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., who is chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, was an influential backer of the law, along with Sen. John Kennedy, R-La. Both represent states that are home to chemical companies that produce alternative refrigerants and sought regulatory certainty through federal action.

The HFC provision was supported by an unusual coalition that included major environmental and business groups, including the National Association of Manufacturers, American Chemistry Council and the Air-Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Institute. The chemistry council represents major companies including Dow, DuPont, Honeywell, Chemours and Arkema. 

The administration said it also is taking other steps to ensure reductions in HFCs, including creation of an interagency task force to prevent illegal trade, production, use or sale of the climate-damaging gases. The task force will be led by the Department of Homeland Security, and EPA’s offices of Air and Radiation and Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. 

Working with the departments of Justice, State and Defense, the task force will “detect, deter and disrupt any attempt to illegally import or produce HFCs in the United States,” the White House said in a fact sheet.

Joseph Goffman, a top official with EPA’s air and radiation office, said the experience of the European Union shows that enforcement is an important part of an HFC crackdown.

“Unfortunately, (the EU) has experienced a lot of illegal activity” on HFC imports and other issues, Goffman said. “We’re going to be vigorous and proactive” in trying to stop illegal imports, he said.

Biden issued an executive order in January that embraces a 2016 amendment to the 1987 Montreal Protocol on ozone pollution. That amendment calls for the United States and other large industrialized countries to reduce HFCs by 85% by 2036. The State Department has prepared documents for formal ratification of the amendment, but the White House has not submitted them to the Senate.

McCarthy insisted “there is no hold up” on the amendment, but said she did not know when Biden would submit the matter to the Senate.

Climate

October 21, 2021
by TWN Staff
Government Unveils Suite of Analyses on Climate Change

Several federal agencies representing the core of the executive branch’s national security and foreign policy apparatus, are releasing a suite... Read More

Several federal agencies representing the core of the executive branch’s national security and foreign policy apparatus, are releasing a suite of reports on the impact of climate change at home and abroad, and particularly on how to deal with the refugees a changing world climate is... Read More

Study: Fossil Fuel Plans Would Far Overshoot Climate Goals

LONDON (AP) — The world needs to cut by more than half its production of coal, oil and gas in... Read More

LONDON (AP) — The world needs to cut by more than half its production of coal, oil and gas in the coming decade to maintain a chance of keeping global warming from reaching dangerous levels, according to a U.N.-backed study released Wednesday. The report published by... Read More

October 15, 2021
by Reece Nations
Tech Innovation ‘Fundamental Foundation’ of Feasibly Solving Climate Crisis

WASHINGTON -- The foundations of what could prove to be the next great innovations in climate change prevention technology were... Read More

WASHINGTON -- The foundations of what could prove to be the next great innovations in climate change prevention technology were laid out and dissected during a Brookings Institution webinar this week. Sanjay Patnaik, director of Brookings Center on Regulation and Markets, hosted a virtual discussion on... Read More

October 15, 2021
by Tom Ramstack
National Weather Service Asks for Help to Face Climate Change Challenges

WASHINGTON -- National Weather Service officials tried to convince a congressional panel Thursday that now is the time to prepare... Read More

WASHINGTON -- National Weather Service officials tried to convince a congressional panel Thursday that now is the time to prepare for escalating travails of global warming. Staffing and technology needs will only grow, meaning any successes in weather forecasting in recent years could be short-lived, they... Read More

October 8, 2021
by Tom Ramstack
Federal Agencies Release Plans For Adapting to Global Warming

WASHINGTON -- More than 20 federal agencies released their plans Thursday to adapt to climate change in response to an... Read More

WASHINGTON -- More than 20 federal agencies released their plans Thursday to adapt to climate change in response to an order from President Joe Biden. The plans explain how they will maintain the continuity of government service despite rising temperatures that will strain their personnel, buildings... Read More

October 6, 2021
by Dan McCue
General Motors, GE Sign MOU to Develop Joint EV and Renewable Energy Supply Chains

DETROIT - General Motors and GE Renewable Energy, a subsidiary of the General Electric Co., have signed an agreement to... Read More

DETROIT - General Motors and GE Renewable Energy, a subsidiary of the General Electric Co., have signed an agreement to develop supply chains supporting the manufacturing of electric vehicles and renewable energy equipment. What both companies are calling a “non-binding memorandum of understanding” in a statement... Read More

News From The Well
scroll top