EPA Moves to Restrict Greenhouse-Gas-Emitting HFCs

The Environmental Protection Agency has regulated the use of certain hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), which are the most potent greenhouse gases created by human activity. They're most commonly used in refrigeration.

“HFCs do not naturally occur anywhere and have been used in refrigeration, air conditioning, aerosols, fire retardants and similar applications,” The Hill reports.

The move comes in efforts to slow climate change through restricting greenhouse gas emissions. Without the regulations, the EPA says HFC use would double by 2020 and triple by 2030, accelerating the impact of global warming. Some HFCs have a global warming potential between 12- and 14,800-times that of the same volume of carbon dioxide, the EPA reports. “They also can stay in the atmosphere and continue to warm the planet for hundreds of years,” explains The Hill

“This rule will not only reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions, but also encourage greater use and development of the next generation of safer HFC alternatives,” EPA head Gina McCarthy said in a statement. “It is in line with steps leading businesses are already taking to reduce and replace HFCs with safer, climate-friendly alternatives.”

In a blog post, Brian Deese and Dan Utech, two of Obama’s top advisers on climate change, pointed to the rule as a major step toward reducing HFCs’ prevalence.

“EPA’s final rule will help us make a significant and meaningful cut in our greenhouse gas emissions—up to the equivalent of 64 million metric tons of carbon dioxide of avoided emissions in 2025,” they wrote.

“The United States is at the cutting edge not only when it comes to developing the next generation of safe and cost-effective alternatives to HFCs, but also in terms of incorporating these alternatives into American cars, air conditioners, refrigerators, foams, and other products,” the advisers said.

The new EPA regulation also contains recommended alternatives to HFCs that are in development and will not put the environment at as much risk as the use of HFCs.

Image: Rusty Clark

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