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EPA Accepts Petitions to Eliminate Super Polluting HFCs


Washington, DC, 8 October 2021 – By accepting petitions to phase out HFCs submitted under the technology transition authority of the American Innovation and Manufacturing Act, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is taking overdue action to stop the use of super polluting hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) in refrigeration and air conditioning, aerosols, and foams sectors where safer alternatives are available.

HFCs are  manufactured chemicals used in a variety of cooling equipment, thermal insulating foam, and medical and technical aerosol products that contribute significantly to the climate crisis that we are already experiencing today. In 2019 alone, the US emitted HFCs equivalent to more than 170 million metric tons of carbon dioxide – equal to the yearly greenhouse gas emissions from 37 million cars. Prohibiting high global warming potential (GWP) HFCs will create new jobs and profits in commercializing superior technology and winning quick environmental benefits with citizens enjoying cleaner air and lower ownership cost.

“Today’s actions are a big win for human health and the planet,” said Dr. Stephen O. Andersen, IGSD Director of Research. “The Biden Harris Administration is proving that government can be a force for good in approving superior technology to replace dangerous climate super pollutants.”

The EPA first proposed to prohibit certain HFC uses under the Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP) Program in 2014. In SNAP Rules 20 and 21, EPA prohibited the specified HFC applications on the grounds that newer, lower-risk alternatives had been EPA-approved and had been or were expected to be introduced into the market. Originally issued in 2015 and 2016, full implementation of SNAP rules 20 and 21 rules were blocked when in 2017 when a court held that the Clean Air Act alone did not give EPA the authority to require current users of HFCs to switch to safer alternatives.

In the years following the 2017 court decision, more than a dozen U.S. states, coordinating through the U.S. Climate Alliance, adopted or proposed to adopt those regulations on a statewide basis. With the enactment of the American Innovation and Manufacturing Act of 2020, which provided federal authority to phase down HFC refrigerant production and consumption,  industry and NGOs alike began petitioning to “restore these common-sense regulations at the federal level.”

IGSD partnered with the Natural Resources Defense Council and the state of Colorado to ask EPA to reinstate the common-sense HFC prohibitions that had been the focus of the SNAP 20 and 21 rules using the EPA’s new authority under the American Innovation and Manufacturing Act. Many Industry Associations and corporations also did their part to make it clear this action is in the public interest.

Today the EPA has done just that.

“This is a day to celebrate the progress that is possible when industry and politicians decide to do what’s right,” said Kristen N. Taddonio, IGSD Senior Climate and Energy Advisor. “Hats off to California, Colorado, and other states that pushed forward against HFCs even when Washington DC was deadlocked.”

“We are encouraged to see the EPA clear the logjam from the previous administration and act at the speed of business to protect the climate” said Durwood Zaelke, President of the Institute for Governance & Sustainable Development. “The President’s climate team is on a roll with their actions to cut HFC at home and abroad. The President’s strong actions on HFCs today, give him the credibility he needs to demand that the rest of the world phase down HFCs under the Kigali Amendment of the Montreal Protocol which is critical to meet our climate goals.”

For more information on the petitions submitted to EPA see Notice of Determination to Grant or Partially Grant Certain Petitions Submitted under Subsection (i) of the American Innovation and Manufacturing Act of 2020.