Court Strikes Down EPA Phaseout of HFCs; New Hearing Sought

  October 17, 2017

By Edward Sullivan

A three judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia has struck down U.S. Environmental Protection Agency rules phasing out the use of HFCs in a variety of applications, including cooling and refrigeration. But the Natural Resources Defense Council and refrigerant manufacturers Chemours and Honeywell have filed petitions for a rehearing, asking the entire court to reverse the decision.

The phaseout of HFCs was triggered because of their high global warming potential (GWP) and the development of a new generation of alternatives with low GWP. Refrigerants affected by the rule include R-404A, R-134a, and R-410A and R-407C, used to replace R-22. Among other things, the rule barred manufacture of new chillers using those refrigerants after Jan. 1, 2024. The rule remains on the books until the full circuit decides whether to grant a rehearing, according to blog by David Doniger, director, climate and clean air program at NRDC.

Two refrigerant manufacturers — Mexichem Fluor and Arkema — sued to block the phaseout. Both had previously replaced ozone depleting refrigerants with HFCs.

Chemours and Honeywell have both developed refrigerants to replace HFCs.

The case hinges on section 612 of the Clean Air Act, which gave EPA authority to ban ozone-depleting substances and to establish and change the list of safe alternatives, known as SNAP — the significant new alternatives program. The court panel put the question this way: does EPA have authority to require a that manufacturer, which previously replaced ozone-depleting substances, to now replace HFCs with another substitute because of concerns about global warming? The divided court panel ruled that EPA did not have that authority.

In asking for a rehearing, NRDC said the panel’s ruling overturned a 1994 regulation that can’t by law be overturned. NRDC also noted that the court panel upheld EPA’s adding HFCs to the list of barred substances. “That should have ended the case,” Doniger said.

This Quick Read was submitted by HYPERLINK "" Edward Sullivan, editor of HYPERLINK "" Building Operating Management magazine, Click here to read more about the new generation of alternative refrigerants on


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