EPA Moves to Usher in Safer Consumer Products Free from Super-polluting HFCs

WASHINGTON  – The Environmental Protection Agency announced today that it will issue rules to speed the transition away from super-pollutant hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) in refrigeration, air conditioners, heat pumps, insulation and aerosols where climate-friendlier alternatives are available.

“Replacing dangerous HFCs in key products will bring us a smooth and rapid transition to climate-friendlier air conditioners, refrigerators, aerosols, insulation, and other products Americans use every day, saving money and energy for consumers, creating new jobs, and protecting our climate and our health,” said Christina Theodoridi, a policy advocate in the Climate & Clean Energy program at NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council.)

The EPA’s action grants 11 petitions filed earlier this year by NRDC and others. The petitions called for the agency to use the American Innovation and Manufacturing (AIM) Act enacted in December 2020 to shift key uses away from HFCs, which, pound for pound, warm the climate hundreds to thousands of times more than carbon dioxide.

By granting the petitions, the EPA has agreed to propose and issue standards setting deadlines to end use of current generation HFCs in the specified products or applications. They’ll be replaced in many uses by HFC-free alternatives, and in other uses by less damaging HFCs. The rules must be finalized within two years.

These rules will supplement the EPA’s regulations phasing down the HFC supply, issued in September. Today’s move helps the U.S. meet the phasedown schedule by reducing the country’s reliance on HFCs.

A blog by Christina Theodoridi on the EPA action today is here: https://www.nrdc.org/experts/christina-theodoridi/climate-friendlier-acs-and-other-products-are-way

Further Background:

The AIM Act requires the EPA to phase down HFC production and import 85 percent over the next 15 years and to ban HFC uses that have ready alternatives.

In April, NRDC and other AIM Act allies filed petitions asking to transition major end-uses away from HFCs in a timely manner.

The petitioners seek to (1) restore a set of measures adopted by EPA in 2015 and 2016—the “SNAP Rules 20 and 21,” designed to eliminate HFCs from car air conditioners and from refrigeration, foams—that were upset on a technicality by a federal court, and (2) adopt nationwide measures pioneered in California for air conditioning and related uses.

The end-uses covered by the petitions include cooling equipment such as commercial and residential refrigeration, car and building air-conditioning, heat pumps, and other HFC uses such as aerosols and insulation foams. In addition to NRDC, NGO petitioners include the Environmental Investigation Agency and the Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development. A state coalition led by California, as well as industry trade groups such as the Air-conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Institute, and the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM), are among the petitioners.

NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 3 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world's natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Bozeman, MT, and Beijing. Visit us at www.nrdc.org and follow us on Twitter @NRDC.

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