The US refrigerant industry is once again in the dark as to the future of HFC’s. Last month, the D.C. Circuit Court denied to rehear its decision made earlier this year on
HFC bans in the case Mexichem Fluor, Inc., v. EPA. By denying the petition the court upheld its ruling: no EPA ban of HFC’s under Section 612. Perhaps this ruling wouldn’t be a big deal if the US had ratified the Kigali Amendment. However, as revealed at a forum hosted by the Hudson Institute, President Trump is still undecided as to whether he will support the Kigali Amendment.
Honeywell has said it is turning to the US Supreme Court to push for a judicial review of the ruling. They are disappointed that the US Federal Appeals Court refused to order an en banc review of the earlier decision made by three judges.
The Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI) said it was not surprised by the court’s decision.
“En banc review is a high bar,” said Francis Dietz, vice president, public affairs, AHRI. “This decision in no way alters our industry’s commitment to the global phase down of HFCs and we are confident that avenues other than Section 612 of the Clean Air Act exist to regulate them in the United States.” If by ‘avenues other than section 612’ he means the Kigali Amendment, he might want to think again.
George David Banks, White House international energy and environment advisor, spoke at an event at the Hudson Institute on Monday, February 5 stating “The president wants to make sure that any international environment agreement does not harm U.S. workers. If the president does decide to support Kigali … it will largely be because he wants to create U.S. jobs.”
The D.C. Court ruling against the EPA ban of HFC’s has the potential to affect implementation of the Kigali Amendment, should it be ratified. Because the court has decided to let the original decision stand, the ruling will go into effect immediately, SNAP Rules 20 and 21 will be vacated, and enforceable implementation of the Kigali Amendment may need another path for the regulation of HFCs in the United States.
Future of HFC’s
Regardless of this ruling, HFCs are unlikely to experience a new surge in popularity. The transition from HFCs in favor of safer solutions such as HFOs that reduce the greenhouse gas impact of refrigerants, aerosols, solvents, and blowing agents is already well underway. California, for example, is implementing a program to reduce HFC emissions 40 percent by 2030, and has already begun to adopt phase out requirements for some applications covered by SNAP.
AHRI has been researching alternative refrigerants since 2011 through their Low-GWP Alternative Refrigerants Evaluation Program. The final phase of the research program is flammable or mildly flammable low-global warming potential (low-GWP) refrigerants that are under consideration to replace those currently in use. The program is jointly funded at $5.6 million by AHRI, ASHRAE, the California Air Resources Board, and DOE.