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    U.S. Court Addresses EPA’s Authority to Regulate HFCs

    September 21, 2017

    Low angle view of a United States court house with sunshine.
    Court Addresses EPA’s Authority on HFC Regulations

    • A U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that under the Clean Air Act, the EPA cannot authorize HFC regulations

      On August 8, 2017, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled 2-1 that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) cannot ban hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) under the Clean Air Act because the Clean Air Act only provided the EPA authority to regulate ozone-depleting substances. Consider the following context regarding the ruling:

      1. The Court ruled that Congress, under the Clean Air Act, gave the U.S. EPA authority to regulate ozone depleting substances (ODSs) but not the replacements for ODSs (HFCs).
      2. Although the 2015 regulation in question was passed under the Obama administration, the Trump Justice Department defended the EPA’s authority to regulate HFCs under the Clean Air Act.
      3. HFC manufacturers, such as Chemours, are strong supporters of the EPA’s decisions to change the status of HFCs under Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP) program regulations.
      4. The recent Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol phases down production of HFCs globally and the U.S. EPA will need regulatory mechanisms to meet U.S. commitments under the treaty, which start in 2019.
      5. As reported, the Court acknowledged, “Although we understand and respect EPA’s overarching effort to fill that legislative void and regulate HFCs, EPA may act only as authorized by Congress.” The Court also noted that the EPA still possesses several other statutory authorities to phase out HFCs.

    • Yet the Court’s ruling may not be the final word

      The decision of this court does not change the reality facing HFC users in all industry sectors, including fire suppression and solvent cleaning. Both the Obama and Trump Administrations supported the U.S. EPA’s authority to regulate HFCs, leading U.S. HFC producers support HFC regulation, and the U.S. needs regulatory instruments to meet its HFC commitments under the Montreal Protocol. The court also highlighted other potential regulatory instruments – all suggesting that this court ruling may not be the final word on HFCs.

      HFCs are not considered long-term, sustainable solutions. In markets including fire suppression, solvent and aerosol formulating, and solvent cleaning and vapor degreasing, there are many HFC-alternatives available, including 3M™ Novec™ 1230 Fire Protection Fluid and 3M™ Novec™ Engineered Fluids. Novec products are designed to optimize performance while minimizing impacts on health, safety and the environment.

      Explore more about 3M™ Novec™ Brand’s commitment to improving lives through sustainable chemistry.

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      3M and Novec are trademarks of 3M Company.
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