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US continues to intercept illegal HFC shipments

USA: The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reports that illegal shipments of HFC refrigerants arriving at US ports continue to be stopped and re-exported.

In an update to progress made since the implementation of the American Innovation and Manufacturing (AIM) Act to phase down HFCs, the EPA insists that the Biden-Harris Administration is marshalling a whole-of-government approach to prevent the illegal trade, production, use or sale of HFCs, support the transition to HFC alternatives and encourage reclamation and recycling.

In March, US authorities announced that it had prevented the equivalent of approximately 530,000 metric tons of CO2 emissions since the implementation of the AIM Act on January 1.

Allowances

The AIM Act established an HFC allowance allocation and trading programme that sets a comprehensive cap on HFCs and phases them down. The phasedown will reduce the consumption and production of HFCs by 85% by 2036. 

The EPA is also developing a proposed rulemaking to address the methodology for how allowances are distributed in 2024 and later years, and held a stakeholder meeting last month with over 350 participants. In 2024, the HFC phasedown will take its next step and move to a 40% reduction below baseline levels. 

A recent public meeting for the EPA’s upcoming Technology Transitions rulemaking, which will address opportunities to support sector-based transitions to next-generation technologies, attracted over 350 participants. The rulemaking under development will address 11 petitions, granted in October 2021, to restrict the use of HFCs in the refrigeration and air conditioning, aerosols, and foam sectors, leading to their replacement by cleaner alternatives. A proposal will be issued for public comment later this year.

On March 31, EPA distributed HFC allowances that had been set aside from the general pool allocated in October last year. Fifty entities received allowances, many of whom were new market entrants and were not eligible in the initial allocation process. EPA also provided notice to three companies of its intent to retire some of their allowances, due to misreporting data and improperly importing without allowances. The Agency’s administrative consequences authority, which allows EPA to retire, revoke, or withhold the allocation of allowances, or ban a company from receiving, transferring, or conferring allowances, is an important tool to deter illegal HFC production and import. 

“Congress provided clear, bipartisan direction to aggressively phase down super-polluting HFCs, and the Biden-Harris Administration has stepped up to deliver a programme that will ramp up more climate-friendly and energy efficient alternatives, save money, and stop illegal imports,” said EPA administrator Michael S Regan. “This will help the United States to meet our ambitious climate goals while allowing American companies to lead the way with innovative technologies.”

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