On February 4, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) held a public meeting to share with stakeholders its plan to transition to alternative refrigerants with better overall environmental profiles than the refrigerants they would replace. The meeting was one of several held by EPA in response to President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, which calls on the agency to use its authority under the Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP) program to identify and approve climate-friendly alternatives while prohibiting certain uses of the most harmful chemicals. At the meeting, EPA announced that it was planning two separate proposed rulemakings. The first rule will be proposed in the spring and will expand the list of low-GWP alternatives for air conditioning and refrigeration applications as shown below. Because these refrigerants are flammable, EPA is planning to propose appropriate use conditions that adopt safety standards.
The second rule, which will be proposed this summer, will likely change the status of the following refrigerants to “unacceptable:”
• R-134a and HFC blends with higher GWPs in vending machines, stand-alone reach-in coolers, and in various foam blowing end uses.
• R-507A, R-404A, and other HFC blends with high GWPs in multiplex supermarket systems (R-407A and R-407F will retain their current status).
In developing its proposals, EPA says it will carefully consider the availability of alternatives and the amount of time it might take to convert to alternatives. EPA is inviting stakeholders to provide feedback on ways to optimize the SNAP program, and encourages the private sector to invest in low emission technology. More information on this initiative can be found in the attached presentation and concept note from EPA.