U.S. states oppose EPA proposal on HFC leaks

By Michael Garry, Nov 20, 2018, 00:31 2 minute reading

Fifteen states and the District of Columbia urge the agency to stick with Obama-era rule extending ODS leak repairs to HFCs.

Fifteen U.S. states and the District of Columbia last week sent a letter to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) “strongly opposing” its proposed revisions to updated leak repair and maintenance regulations for stationary refrigeration and air conditioning equipment containing HFCs.

The states, mostly represented by their attorney general, include Massachusetts, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and California. California was also represented by its Air Resources Board.

The states’ letter was issued on November 15, the deadline the EPA set to receive comments on the proposed revisions.

All of the states but Illinois, Iowa and Maine belong to the U.S. Climate Alliance, which is committed to reducing short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs), including HFCs in the absence of federal leadership. (Illinois plans to join.) Four of the states in the alliance – California, New York, Maryland and Connecticut – have announced HFC-reduction plans.

The letter objected to the EPA’s September proposal, entitled Protection of Stratospheric Ozone: Revisions to the Refrigerant Management Program’s Extension to Substitutes,” which the letter said would limit the scope of the EPA’s refrigerant management program and “thereby increase emissions of dangerous chemicals.”

The States instead urged the EPA to withdraw the proposed rule and fully the appliance-maintenance and leak-repair provisions that apply to HFCs.

The EPA’s proposed rule takes aim at an update to Section 608 of the Clean Air Act issued on November 18, 2016. Under the update, the EPA extended the refrigerant management rules for supermarkets and industrial facilities – originally designed for ozone-depleting substances (ODS) – to common ODS substitutes like HFCs. But in the proposed rule the EPA would revert to the original language of Section 608, which pertains only to leak repair and maintenance of ODS equipment.

The agency is also weighing whether it should also rescind additional requirements set forth in the 2016 rule pertaining to HFCs, such as the provision requiring purchasers or handlers to be Section 608-certified technicians.

The letter said the proposed rule “reflects an arbitrary, capricious, and inadequately explained departure from EPA’s 2016 Rule.”

The letter also called the EPA’s proposed rule “unlawful and misguided,” adding that the Clean Air Act “gives EPA broad authority to promulgate regulations to prevent the knowing ventilation of both ODS refrigerants and their substitutes and to reduce ODS emissions to the lowest achievable level.”

Extension of appliance-maintenance and leak-repair requirements to HFCs, the letter adds, provides “a sensible and consistent regulatory scheme that prevents knowing ventilation and emissions of both ODSs and dangerous ODS substitutes.”

By Michael Garry

Nov 20, 2018, 00:31

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