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“Baffling” rollback of HFC leak rules

USA: The US EPA’s finalisation of legislation to rollback HFC leak prevention rules, has been described as “baffling” by the Natural Resources Defense Council and a “payoff to big industries”.

The action revises some of the requirements of a 2016 ruling, specifically regarding appliance maintenance and leak repair provisions, so they apply only to equipment using ozone depleting refrigerants. 

The judicial review had been supported by two industry coalitions, the National Environmental Development Association’s Clean Air Project (NEDA/CAP) and the Air Permitting Forum (APF). Refrigerant manufacturers Chemours and Honeywell, along with the environmental groups, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and the Alliance for Responsible Atmospheric Policy were in favour of retaining the HFC controls.

Strongly criticising the decision, David Doniger, the NRDC’s Climate & Clean Energy Programme’s senior strategic director, said: “EPA’s payoff to big industries like Boeing, Eli Lilly, Proctor & Gamble, and Koch Industries makes no sense. This rollback will fuel the climate crisis by adding more super-polluting HFCs to the atmosphere each year, in an amount equal to the carbon pollution from one million cars. It will save industry just $24m a year, a pittance when spread across thousands of industrial facilities. 

“And this rollback is all the more baffling when industry – including the US Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers – is supporting the same HFC leak prevention measures in the bipartisan legislation now moving forward in both the Senate and House. 

“We are exploring all avenues to restore this common sense, dirt-cheap measure that would stop HFC leaks and protect the climate,” he added.

Disastrous

Christina Starr, climate policy analyst at the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) described the decision as a “disastrous reversal of a common-sense climate policy”. 

“In a time of acute need for action to tackle the climate crisis, the US EPA has reversed a basic safeguard against leaking super-pollutant HFCs. It is unacceptable to stand by and write a blank check for dumping these gases into our atmosphere,” she said. 

Colleague Avipsa Mahapatra, the EIA’s climate campaign lead, said the EPA’s decision “flies against logic”, arguing that reducing leaks saves businesses money in addition to reducing emissions.

“Fortunately, there is a global momentum to minimise use of these potent greenhouse gases now that nearly 100 countries—although not the United States– have ratified the Kigali Amendment to phase down HFCs,” she added.

Related stories:

EPA looks to rescind HFC leak controls20 September 2018
USA: The US Environmental Protection Agency is looking to roll back its rules relating to HFC leak checking and is seeking comment on other rules on refrigerant recovery and refrigerant handling. Read more…

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