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New EPA Rule Allows Climate Friendly Refrigerators Following EIA Petition

Washington D.C. – Yesterday the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a rule that will allow climate-friendly refrigerants in household refrigerators and freezers. Replacing the super greenhouse gas commonly used as refrigerant (HFC-134a) in this sector, could avoid emissions of up to 3.7 million metric tons of direct CO2 equivalent annually.

“The U.S. market has lagged behind the rest of the world for many years in adopting climate-friendly fridges, due to an outdated restrictive standard that had prevented hydrocarbon refrigerators used globally from entering the market. This rule will allow innovative American appliance manufacturers to catch up with the rest of the world,” said Avipsa Mahapatra, EIA’s Climate Campaign Lead. “This rule would also help meet American commitments to reduce HFCs under the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol.”

A new standard published earlier this year, UL 60335-2-24, updated the safety requirements for hydrocarbon fridges in the U.S., bringing them in line with international standards. EIA, together with the North American Sustainable Refrigeration Council (NASRC), submitted a petition in September requesting that the EPA take this step. This new rule, titled, “Protection of Stratospheric Ozone: Revision to References for Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Sector to Incorporate Latest Edition of Certain Industry, Consensus-based Standards” incorporates the new UL standard which allows use of a larger amount of climate-friendly hydrocarbon refrigerants (isobutane, propane and R-441A) in new household refrigerators, freezers, and combination refrigerators and freezers.

“The market is rapidly shifting to climate friendly refrigerants. This rule sends a positive signal that EPA will continue to facilitate this transition by issuing sensible rules to incorporate the most updated standards developed by widely recognized standards organizations,” said Christina Starr, EIA Climate Policy Analyst, “The hydrocarbon fridges are also significantly more energy efficient than those using HFC refrigerants, bringing added cost savings for consumers.”

The new rule is issued under the EPA’s Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP) Program, which publishes a list of acceptable refrigerants deemed safe for use in various types of cooling equipment.

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