EPA published a proposed rule on December 15, 2022 which further supports the phasedown of hydrofluorocarbon use under the American Innovation and Manufacturing (AIM) Act. The proposed rule, entitled, Phasedown of Hydrofluorocarbons: Restrictions on the Use of Certain Hydrofluorocarbons Under Subsection (i) the American Innovation and Manufacturing Act of 2020 (the Proposed Rule) will significantly impact entities that import or manufacture products containing or manufactured with hydrofluorocarbons.
In the Proposed Rule EPA is proposing sector-specific restrictions for certain hydrofluorocarbon (“HFC”) containing equipment. Entities that import or manufacture this regulated equipment will be subject to new recordkeeping and labeling requirements in addition to new prohibitions. The sectors which will be impacted are refrigeration, air conditioning, and heat pump products and equipment as well as products using HFCs in foam blowing or aerosols. Entities that import or manufacture equipment in these sectors should review the Federal Register notice in detail to assess the extent of the impact of the new regulations once finalized.
The AIM Act was enacted to address hydrofluorocarbons, which are potent greenhouse gases. The AIM Act authorizes EPA to pursue HFC reduction through several different avenues: (1) reducing their production and consumption (See Phasedown of Hydrofluorocarbons: Establishing the Allowance Allocation and Trading Program Under the American Innovation and Manufacturing Act (86 FR 55116, October 5, 2021); (2) facilitating reclamation and minimizing releases; and (3) encouraging and supporting the transition to new technologies. The Proposed Rule targets the third area.
The Proposed Rule creates a framework for how EPA will receive and evaluate future petitions submitted pursuant to Subsection (i) of the AIM Act and proposes certain restrictions on the use of specified HFCs within new products in refrigeration, air-conditioning and heat pump and in the foam blowing and aerosols sectors. It also outlines recordkeeping and reporting requirements designed to support the new restrictions
Subsection (i) of the AIM Act
Under subsection (i)(3) of the AIM Act, individuals can petition EPA to promulgate rules for the restriction of HFCs in a sector or subsector. Thus far EPA has granted twelve petitions and partially granted one. The Proposed Rule clarifies the factors EPA will use to evaluate petitions and the process for submitting petitions, including creating required standard content.
The Proposed Rule explains EPA’s proposal for restricting the use of HFCs in specified equipment in accordance with granted petitions. The proposed restrictions are designed to occur in two stages first the manufacture or import of the products would be prohibited and the following year the sale, distribution, and export would be prohibited. The proposed HFC prohibitions and/or restrictions affect the following new equipment, most as early as 2025:
- Industrial process refrigeration
- Retail food refrigeration
- Vending machines
- Cold storage warehouses
- Ice rinks
- Automatic commercial ice machines
- Transport refrigeration, including intermodal containers, road systems and marine systems
- Residential refrigeration systems
- Residential dehumidifiers
- Residential and light commercial air conditioners
- Motor vehicle air conditioners
In addition, most HFC foam blowing and aerosol product uses will also be restricted starting in 2025.
EPA is also proposing labeling, reporting, and recordkeeping requirements applicable to any entity that manufactures or imports products that contain or are intended to contain HFCs or regulated substances. EPA is proposing on-product labeling for all regulated products that includes (1) the HFC or blend used in the product; (2) the associated global warming potential (GWP) and (3) the date of manufacture. EPA has outlined additional labeling requirements depending on the type of product. These same entities will also be subject to a number of additional reporting requirements.
Entities that are likely to be impacted by the rule should submit comments to EPA before January 30, 2023 and must reference the EPA Docket: EPA-HQ-OAR-2021-0643