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EPA Rule Limits Ozone-Depleting Refrigerants

The EPA on Friday issued a rule that reduces the domestic production allowances for HCFC-22 to the lowest level ever and proposes a complete phase-out within five years.

HCFCs, or hydrochlorofluorocarbons, are a class of refrigerants that are damaging to the ozone layer and contribute to climate change.

The rule aims to reduce emissions from leakage and stockpiles of this gas and encourages state-of-the-art leak detection, maintenance, and recycling, recovery and reuse of HCFCs. Additionally, it creates incentive for commercial consumers to convert outdated equipment that still uses HCFCs to more energy-efficient equipment using low global warming potential alternatives.

If significant amounts of stockpile continue to flood the market, it would discourage transitions to new more climate friendly alternatives, and instead support the use of cheap ozone and climate destroying gases, like HCFC-22.

President Obama’s Climate Action Plan singles out high global-warming-potential refrigerants such as HCFCs as a way to reduce US carbon emissions.

The Environmental Investigation Agency praised the EPA’s rule but said it will be important for the agency to adopt additional measures to require supermarkets and other HCFC consumers to use more climate-friendly gases.

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