March 14, 2017
Every new administration comes with its own wave of policy and regulatory change. The fate of hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) policy and regulation under the Trump Administration was clouded with uncertainty. Until now.
The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) publically defended the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP) rule to limit use of high global warming (GWP) HFCs at the D.C. Court of Appeals hearing for Mexichem, a Mexican chemical manufacturer, and Arkema, a French chemical company. In their lawsuit, Mexichem and Arkema argue that the U.S. EPA only has authority to change the status of ozone damaging chemicals, such as halon, and not to the list of substitutes, such as HFCs. According to E&E News’ GreenWire, the DOJ argued that the EPA is permitted by law to make changes when the older chemicals pose a danger to health or the environment. And because HFCs have high GWPs, many times the heat trapping potential of carbon dioxide, the DOJ considers the EPA justified in taking them off the list of acceptable substitutes for that reason.
With its position on this issue it appears that the new Administration is interested in advancing U.S. business interests. Many U.S. corporations, including HFC producers, are strong advocates of HFC policy and regulation that will allow markets to transition to more sustainable and profitable substitutes.
HFCs used in fire suppression
With regard to HFCs in fire suppression, the EPA sought comments in early 2016 on the availability of substitutes or alternative technologies or processes that would obviate their continued use. The EPA continues to assess the merits of taking broader action and has received advance comments regarding the availability of substitutes for HFCs used in fire protection. And with the Department of Justice backing the U.S. EPA’s authority under SNAP to regulate HFCs, including FM-200™ and ECARO 25™, the new Administration appears to be maintaining the course established by the Obama Administration. Although the case has not yet been decided, the good news is that there are low GWP alternatives available today, including 3M™ Novec™ 1230 Fire Protection Fluid (PDF, 1.39 MB), which are not targeted for phasedown.
Visit the EPA’s website to stay up to date on current SNAP regulations and the state of HFCs in fire suppression.
HFCs used in solvent cleaning and vapor degreasing applications
Conventional HFC-based solvent cleaners, such as Vertrel™ Specialty Fluids from Chemours, also seem to be following the path of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs). Luckily, the solvent cleaning and vapor degreasing industries are well equipped with high performing, low GWP alternatives that are not subject to a phasedown or phase-out, including 3M™ Novec™ Engineered Fluids.
To learn more about the HFC phasedown under the Montreal Protocol, the Kigali Amendment Fact Sheet (PDF, 998 KB) provides a great summary.
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