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EPA challenged over US disposable cylinder ban

USA: An influential United States House of Representatives committee is questioning the US Environmental Protection Agency’s rule banning non-refillable refrigerant cylinders.

In a letter to the EPA administrator Michael Regan, Oversight and Accountability Committee chairman James Comer has requested documents and communications, as well as a staff-level briefing from the EPA, regarding its actions.

“By banning this particular cylinder in an effort to phasedown the production and consumption of hydrofluorocarbons, the EPA surpasses its jurisdictional authority, creates unnecessary industrial disruptions, and jeopardises good-paying jobs,” Comer claims.

Non-refillable (disposable) cylinders have been banned in a number of countries, including the EU, Canada and Australia, due to the “heel” of refrigerant that is inevitably left behind when disposed of. Cheap and untraceable, non-refillable are also seen as the container of choice for the refrigerant smuggler. 

In implementing the AIM Act to phase down HFCs, the US has been acutely aware of the black market in illegal refrigerant which has seriously undermined the Europe’s F-gas phase down efforts.

The new US legislation will prohibit the sale of non-refillable cylinders from December 31, 2024.

The Committee on Oversight and Accountability is the main investigative committee of the US House of Representatives and has a broad jurisdiction and legislative authority.

The committee questions whether the EPA is ignoring stakeholder concerns related to the rule. It cites the example of a petition filed by US cylinder manufacturer Worthington Industries in November 2021, which included a proposal for a new prototype cylinder. Worthington is said to have received no substantive response from the EPA.

“EPA’s nonresponse endangers jobs, decreases American business competitiveness, and increases reliance on foreign countries,” wrote James Comer. “Because Worthington Industries is the only domestic manufacturer of the non-refillable cylinder, the EPA’s decision to ban non-refillable cylinders would make the United States exclusively reliant on foreign production capacity,” he added.

Worthington’s petition included details of a protoype fully recyclable lightweight cylinder. It is said that the design contains features that will prevent intentional venting and fugitive emissions, provide unique, visually identifiable handle shapes, and accommodate scannable QR codes or RFID chips to facilitate counterfeit detection. 

“As the dominant domestic supplier, we stand ready to work with the EPA on a viable solution that achieves the EPA’s environmental objectives, retains US manufacturing jobs and provides minimal disruption to the essential HVACR industry,” Worthington Industries told the Cooling Post. “We are grateful for chairman Comer’s efforts to hold the EPA accountable and deter what will be a significant disruption to the entire HVACR supply chain if this issue isn’t addressed.”

Related stories:

Worthington joins legal challenge to disposable cylinder ban4 December 2021
USA: Worthington Industries has announced that it will also file a legal petition for review of the EPA’s ban on non-refillable refrigerant cylinders. Read more…

Worthington calls for rethink on disposable cylinder ban – 20 November 2021
USA: Refrigerant cylinder manufacturer Worthington Industries has called on the US EPA to rescind the forthcoming ban on disposable, non-refillable cylinders. Read more…

HARDI files lawsuit over US disposable cylinder ban – 2 December 2021
USA: HARDI, the US HVACR wholesalers association, is going to court in an effort to overturn the new US ban on non-refillable, disposable cylinders. Read more…

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