Ed-WhitfieldUSA: A member of the powerful Committee on Energy and Commerce has written to the EPA expressing serious concern over plans to ban certain high GWP refrigerants.

Congressman Ed Whitfield, chairman of the Energy and Power Subcommittee has requested information related to the legality, cost, and feasibility of the decision.

In July last year the EPA announced a proposal to ban a number of common HFC refrigerants including R404A, R507A and R134a in certain products and applications from as early as January 1, 2016.

Hundreds of manufacturers have warned of the near-impossibility of meeting the proposed deadlines as well as the high costs and potential risks of using alternative compounds, many of which are flammable. In addition to the impact on manufacturers, more than a million restaurants and other small businesses rely on equipment affected by the proposed rule, and many have raised serious concerns about costs and safety.

In the letter to EPA administrator Gina McCarthy, Ed Whitfield writes: “I understand the consensus among the affected companies in the refrigeration, motor vehicle, and insulation industries is that the proposed compliance requirements are not feasible, would cause considerable economic harm and job losses, and may increase rather than reduce risks to the American public.”

He also expresses concern at the short timeframes in which manufacturers must modify their products to use the new alternatives.

“I understand that few of these companies believe that compliant products can be designed, tested, certified, and manufactured under the proposed schedule,” he writes.

He also argues that the targeted refrigerants are very energy efficient and have helped manufacturers comply with Department of Energy efficiency standards for refrigeration equipment. A forced switch to unproven alternatives is likely to hamper compliance with those standards, he argues, and points out that it may be counterproductive and result in increased energy use and related emissions.

“Once again, EPA is rushing to impose a very unworkable and expensive global warming rule.  This regulation as proposed would be bad news for manufacturers, small businesses, and consumers,” said Whitfield. “For these reasons, I have sent a letter to the agency with questions about the legality, feasibility, cost, and claimed benefits of the proposed rule.”

A copy of the letter can be viewed here.

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