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EPA Proposes to Rescind 2016 Changes to Refrigerant Management Rule for Substitutes

Earlier this month, EPA published a proposed rule to revise the refrigerant management requirements (40 CFR Part 82, Subpart F) as they apply to non-ozone-depleting substitutes (e.g., R-134a) for ozone-depleting refrigerants (e.g., R-12).

EPA is revisiting the post-2016 changes to these requirements for maintenance and leak repair of appliances containing more than 50 pounds of refrigerant and for the recycling of small appliances, motor vehicle air-conditioning units (MVACs), and MVAC-like appliances.

EPA is proposing to limit the appliance maintenance and leak repair requirements to only appliances containing more than 50 pounds of ozone-depleting refrigerant. EPA is also taking comment on limiting the applicability of Subpart F to only appliances containing ozone-depleting refrigerant, including small appliance, MVACs, and MVAC-like appliances. EPA bases these proposed changes on a new understanding that Title VI of the Clean Air Act (CAA) does not grant to EPA the authority to regulate management of non-ozone-depleting substitutes. However, EPA finds that it does have CAA authority to prohibit the knowing venting or release of both ozone-depleting refrigerants and non-ozone-depleting substitutes and to provide exemptions to these prohibitions for de minimis releases and also for substitutes that “do not pose a threat to the environment”. While the potential revision to Subpart F would largely restore these requirements to their earlier form (applicable to only ozone-depleting refrigerants), the proposed changes to the regulatory language do not restore the earlier language.

ISRI is reviewing the proposed regulatory language for other possible regulatory effects (e.g., leaving unchanged the post-2016 definition of refrigerant that includes both ozone-depleting and non-ozone-depleting substances). EPA is accepting comments on the proposed rule through November 15, 2018. ISRI is interested in members’ views on this proposed rule. Please send ASAP comments or questions to David Wagger, Chief Scientist/Director of Environmental Management.
 

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