WASHINGTON, D.C. –The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently finalized a rule to prohibit certain uses of chemicals that significantly contribute to climate change in favor of safer, more climate-friendly alternatives. This action responds to President Obama’s Climate Action Plan by reducing emissions of hydrofluorocarbons, a class of potent greenhouse gases used in air-conditioning, refrigeration and other equipment.
In the United States, HFC emissions are expected to nearly double by 2020 and triple by 2030. New technologies and new climate-friendly refrigerants can significantly reduce these emission increases. EPA estimates this final rule will reduce greenhouse gas emissions of 54 to 64 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent in 2025, equal to the carbon dioxide emissions from the annual energy use of more than 5.8 million homes.
The HFCs and HFC-containing blends affected by the rule are used in aerosols, foam blowing, motor vehicle air conditioning, retail food refrigeration and vending machines. In many of the sectors addressed by the recent rulemaking, EPA is also approving several alternatives under its Significant New Alternatives Policy Program; the new options offer better climate protection without harming the ozone layer.
Under the authority of the Clean Air Act and EPA’s SNAP Program, EPA reviews alternatives on an ongoing basis and issues updates to the lists of acceptable and unacceptable substitutes. The recent rule changes the status of certain high-global warming potential HFCs that were previously listed as acceptable under the SNAP Program as unacceptable in specific end uses. These changes are based on information showing other alternatives are available for the same uses that pose lower risk overall to human health and the environment.
In developing and finalizing the rule, EPA received input from industry, environmental groups and others through workshops and meetings, and reviewed more than 7,000 public comments. Based on public comments on the proposal and additional information submitted to the agency, the agency’s final rule makes a number of changes from the proposal. These include giving manufacturers the time and flexibility they need to ensure a smooth transition to safer alternatives.
To learn more about EPA’s SNAP Program and the rule, visit http://www.epa.gov/ozone/snap/regulations.html.