EPA Proposes New Rules to Reduce Potent Greenhouse Gas

Today, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy joined private and public sector leaders for a second annual White House roundtable discussion about the progress made and new steps taken to curb emissions of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), potent greenhouse gases used in refrigeration and air conditioning. Administrator McCarthy announced several new actions the agency will take to help support a smooth transition to climate-friendly alternatives to HFCs.

“EPA is working closely with industry leaders to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, transition to climate-friendly refrigerants, and deploy advanced refrigeration technologies,” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. “The powerful combination of EPA’s regulatory actions and innovations emerging from the private sector have put our country on track to significantly cut HFC use and deliver on the goals of the President’s Climate Action Plan.”

Among the actions announced today, EPA proposed a rule that would improve the way refrigerant is sold, handled, recovered, and recycled. The proposal would strengthen the existing requirements for handling refrigerants and apply those rules to ozone-depleting and HFC refrigerants. EPA estimates that this rule would further reduce enough HFC emissions in 2025 to equal 7 million metric tons of carbon dioxide. EPA will accept comments on the proposal for 60 days following publication in the Federal Register. After reviewing public comments, EPA plans to finalize this rule in 2016.

EPA also announced that it intends to initiate a proposed rulemaking in 2016 under EPA’s Significant New Alternatives Policy Program in 2016 that would change the status for certain high global warming potential HFCs to unacceptable where safer alternatives are available and also approve several new climate-friendly alternatives for a variety of industry applications.

At the roundtable gathering, the Department of Defense announced a suite of new commitments, including installing low-GWP transcritical CO2 refrigeration systems at three U.S. commissaries in 2016 and strengthening existing collaborations and creating mechanisms to build new military-to-military and industry partnerships to share information and lessons-learned on emissions reductions and lower-GWP alternatives. Greenchill Partner Target announced that all of the new stand-alone coolers in its stores with a compressor capacity below 2,200 btu/hr will be HFC-free starting in January 2016. Also, Roundy’s Supermarket announced it joined EPA’s GreenChill Partnership and committed to using HFC-free transcritical CO2 refrigeration technology in its six new stores that are opening next year in Illinois and Wisconsin.

The new efforts build upon progress and commitments already made under EPA’s GreenChill partnership, which works with the supermarket industry to transition to climate-friendly refrigerants, reduce the amount of refrigerant used and eliminate harmful refrigerant leaks. If supermarkets nationwide reduced the amount of refrigerant they leak to the current GreenChill partner average, they could avoid $169 million in refrigerant replacement costs while preventing the annual emission of about 29 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (MMTCO2eq). In 2014 alone, GreenChill partners, including the GreenChill awardees, prevented more than 8 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions.

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