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U.S. EPA Proposes Landmark Climate Rule to Initiate HFC Phase-down

Washington DC - Today the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a proposed rulemaking to establish an allocation system for the phasedown of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). The proposed rule is the first step to implement the American Innovation and Manufacturing Act (AIM Act), the new climate law that sets the U.S. on course for compliance with the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol. The rule proposes an allowance allocation and trading system, which will determine the amount of HFCs an entity can produce or consume, and create the mechanism to phase-down domestic HFCs.

“We are incredibly excited by the swiftness with which EPA is setting up a framework to implement landmark climate regulation to eliminate HFCs that will achieve emission reductions of 4.7 billion metric tons of CO2e by 2050,” said Avipsa Mahapatra, EIA Climate Campaign Lead. “What is even more promising, is that for the first time, we actually see a plan that goes beyond voluntary commitments to tackle HFC-23, one of the most potent greenhouse gases on the planet, emissions of which are higher than at any point in history.”

EIA called out major U.S. producer Chemours for its continued significant emissions of HFC-23, contrary to its publicly-announced commitment made nearly six years ago. The proposed rule also includes key mechanisms to prevent illegal activity including banning the use of non-refillable refrigerant cylinders and introducing an innovative tracking system, using QR codes to trace the trade of HFCs and register participating companies.

“This rule shows that the EPA is serious about the specific challenges inherent to phasing down a class of dangerous chemicals. Over the last 20 years, we’ve seen how damaging illegal trade and other means of circumventing the rules can be and this is a strong attempt to get the U.S. on the right path to get rid of these super pollutants,” said Alexander von Bismark, EIA Executive Director.

Today’s proposed rulemaking is the first major new climate regulation proposed by EPA under the Biden Administration and will be open for a 45-day public comment period before being finalized by September. Other anticipated regulations under the AIM Act will focus on limiting which HFCs can be used in specific sectors, and refrigerant management requirements to control leaks and emissions from equipment. EIA petitioned EPA to ensure key sectors like supermarkets and air conditioners transition to the most climate-friendly substitutes available and continues to advocate for proactive leak management.

Lindsay Moran, Head of Communications, EIA-US, lmoran@eia-global.org

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