Hydrofluorocarbons – HFC's
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP) program implements section 612 of the amended Clean Air Act of 1990, which requires EPA to evaluate substitutes for ozone-depleting substances to reduce overall risk to human health and environment. Through these evaluations, SNAP generates lists of acceptable and unacceptable substitutes for each of the major industrial use sectors. EPA has modified the SNAP lists many times, most often by expanding the list of acceptable substitutes, but in some cases by prohibiting the use of substitutes previously listed as acceptable.
The EPA issued SNAP regulations in 2015 and 2016 to prohibit certain end uses of HFCs where safer alternatives are available (SNAP Rules 20 and 21). The rules set deadlines for adopting HFC alternatives in commercial refrigeration, vehicle air conditioning, building chillers, foam manufacture, aerosol products, and more. In 2017, a federal court decision limited EPA’s authority over HFCs under the “Safe Alternatives” provision of the Clean Air Act. The SNAP rules would have avoided about 68 million metric tons of CO2-equivalent HFC emissions in 2025. In absence of national policies and federal action, states are now filling the gap left by the court decision.
Rhode Island, as part of the US Climate Alliance, is proposing action to reduce certain HFCs and HFC blends that have a high global warming potential and pose a higher overall risk to human health and the environment. The draft regulation proposes to adopt specific SNAP prohibitions for HFCs in air conditioning and refrigeration equipment, aerosol propellants, and foam end-uses.
The draft regulation focuses on reducing the use of HFCs starting in 2021 and include the sale, installation, manufacturing, and commercial use of certain refrigerants in new or retrofitted food refrigeration equipment, large air conditioning equipment (or chillers), and vending machines as well as prohibitions on substances used in foams and as aerosol propellants in new consumer products.
Why is the draft regulation important?
Hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs, are greenhouse gases that are thousands of times more powerful than carbon dioxide. It makes sense to stop using them when there are alternatives available that are safer for human health and the environment.
Who does this draft regulation apply to?
The draft regulation applies to any person who sells, offers for sale, leases, rents, installs, uses, or manufacturers or otherwise cause to be entered into commerce, within the State of Rhode Island any product or equipment that contain restricted HFCs.
- December 11, 2020, from 10 am-11 am – Draft Regulation Stakeholder Workshop (Virtual)
- December 22, 2020 – Deadline for Informal Comments
- Early 2021 – Commence Formal Rulemaking Process
- Draft Rulemaking re: PART 52 - Prohibition of Hydrofluorocarbons in Specific End-Uses (250-RICR-120-05-52 )
- RI HFC Stakeholder Workshop Presentation, December 11, 2020
- Informal Feedback Received on the Draft Rulemaking re: PART 52- Prohibition of Hydrofluorocarbons in Specific End-Uses (250-RICR-120-05-52)
- RI HFC Stakeholder Workshop Recording, December 11, 2020
- Press Release, February 18, 2020: Rhode Island Joins Massachusetts and Maine in Plan to Regulate Hydrofluorocarbons, Potent Pollutants That Are an Important Piece of the Fight Against Climate Change
- United States Climate Alliance
For further information, contact Allison.Archambault@dem.ri.gov at 401-222-2808 x2035.