EPA plan swaps superpollutant for climate-friendly options

By Jean Chemnick | 12/09/2022 04:10 PM EST

An EPA proposal would phase down the production of HFCs, potent greenhouse gases widely used in refrigeration systems and air conditioners.

EPA unveiled a new proposal to restrict HFCs, potent greenhouse gases widely used in refrigeration systems and air conditioners. Open Grid Scheduler/Grid Engine/Flickr

EPA released a proposal today that would phase down the use of climate superpollutants in products like refrigeration and foams for which more climate-friendly substitutes exist.

The draft rule will be open for public comment for 45 days and marks the next step in EPA’s overall strategy for cutting the production and use of hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs, by 85 percent by 2036. That’s the goal laid out in the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol, which the U.S. ratified on Halloween, and it’s the goal of a law that passed by Congress with bipartisan support in December 2020.

“This proposal will support a transition away from super-pollutant HFCs in key sectors of our economy while promoting American leadership in manufacturing of new climate-safe products, making our nation more globally competitive and delivering significant environmental and economic benefits,” said EPA Administrator Michael Regan in a press release.


EPA has already promulgated a rule setting a baseline for HFC consumption and allocations for historic consumers. That rule forms the basis of the 85 percent drawdown. It has also proposed a rule with the near-term objective of slashing supply of the potent greenhouse gases by 40 percent by 2024. Yet to come is an EPA proposal to manage the nation’s stock of HFCs. The Biden administration has also stepped up enforcement actions against illegal imports of HFCs and against companies that misreport their use.

HFCs can be thousands of times as climate-forcing as carbon dioxide.