EPA Lays Out New Plan for Phasing Out Climate Pollutants

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(Bloomberg Law) -- The EPA will issue a plan on Tuesday for the phase-out of ozone-depleting chemicals commonly used in refrigeration, portable fire extinguishers, and metal cleaners.

The new final rule updates the Environmental Protection Agency’s most recent production and consumption schedule for hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), which ran through 2019.

HCFCs are a class of refrigerant whose use was later surpassed by hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), which were thought to be more environmentally friendly. Last week, opposition from the White House and some Republicans over a proposed amendment to curb HFCs led to a broad-ranging energy package being pulled from the Senate floor.

The new EPA rule is also consistent with the 1992 Montreal Protocol, which established that after January 1, HCFCs can only be used to service refrigeration, air conditioning, and fire suppression equipment existing on that date.

Two Types Affected

The EPA’s rule affects two types of HCFCs, known as HCFC-123 and HCFC-124. The rule lays out a gradually decreasing allowance of HCFC-123 consumption, from 650 metric tons this year to 90 in 2029, for servicing equipment manufactured before January 1.

It also steps down the allowance for both the consumption and production of HCFC-124 from 200 metric tons this year to 25 in 2029.

The rule also adds the servicing of existing fire suppression equipment to the authorized uses of newly produced or imported quantities of HCFC-123 and HCFC-124 from 2020 through 2029.

Another change streamlines the process for petitioning the agency to import used ozone-depleting substances. Under the rule, the information requirements are reduced for importers who want to bring in halon from a halon bank, provided the EPA gets an official letter from a foreign government stating that the halon is used and that the bank is authorized to collect used halon.

The rule further bans the sale or distribution of any ozone-depleting substance that the seller knows has been imported into the U.S. without consumption allowances.

Companies such as Trane Technologies plc—which filed comments under its former name, Ingersoll Rand plc—and National Refrigerants Inc., supported the allocation amounts. Industry has said the limits accurately reflect the amount of HCFC-123 needed for servicing refrigeration, air conditioning, and fire suppression equipment.

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