Democrats urge US EPA to take domestic action on HFCs

By Alexandra Maratou, Dec 06, 2013, 11:54 2 minute reading

A 3 December 2013 letter by 16 Democrat Senators and Members of the Congress addressed to US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy, calls for immediate national action to curb hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), and not to wait until an international agreement is first reached under the Montreal Protocol.

"Recognizing that it may take some time to amend the Montreal Protocol and incorporate those changes into US regulations, we believe the EPA does not need to wait to implement smart policies that can help accelerate these transitions in the United States and globally," reads the letter.

The letter recognizes that the increasing use of HFCs to address the global problem of ozone depletion, is more and more contributing to another global problem, namely global warming, with estimates that HFCs could account for about 20% of greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 under business as usual.

A growing suite of HFC-free solutions: e.g. transcritical CO2 Hannaford supermarket

“As we wait for global action, some sectors in this country and in other countries are already beginning to transition away from HFCs, influenced by regulation, voluntary programs and growing suite of alternatives.”

The Democrats refer to growing use of hydrocarbons in domestic refrigerators and window air conditioners, vending machines, motor vehicle air conditioning, insulating foams, and supermarkets.

The letter points out the example of the Hannaford supermarket that opened recently in Turner, Maine and is the first in the country to use transcritical CO2 technology: “It is estimated that the new system will reduce the store’s carbon footpring by 3.4 million pounds of carbon dioxide equivalent per year and will save the store money in the long run in repair and energy costs,” reads the letter.

SUPER Act of 2013

One of the letter signatories, Congressman Scott Peters from California introduced in May 2013 the “Super Pollutant Emissions Reduction Act of 2013”, or “SUPER Act of 2013”, to streamline the enforcement of existing federal policies to reduce HFCs and other short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs) and encourage similar policies. The Act would also establish a Task Force to drive the discussions on reducing SLCPs further.

EPA organising series of SNAP workshops

Since November 2013, the US EPA has already started taking action towards curbing HFCs domestically through organising a series of workshops to exchange information on alternatives to ozone-depleting substances in air-conditioning and refrigeration sector. The aim is to consider allowing the use of alternatives through listing these under the Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP) Program. Workshops on household appliances, stationary air conditioning and motor vehicle air conditioning were held in November and December.

On 16 December for example, the US EPA will hold a workshop that will address the use of refrigerants in commercial and industrial refrigeration end-uses and applications, including cold chain, refrigerated transport, cold storage, vending machines, retail food refrigeration, commercial ice machines, and very low temperature refrigeration systems. Interested stakeholders shall send an email to Rebecca von dem Hagen (vondemhagen.rebecca@epa.gov) by 9 December 2013.  

MORE INFORMATION

By Alexandra Maratou

Dec 06, 2013, 11:54




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