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Jan. 23, 2012: R-22 Supplies in Question

January 23, 2012
KEYWORDS EPA / hcfc / R-22 / refrigerant
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WASHINGTON — Production and importation of HCFC refrigerants including R-22 have been on hold since the first of the year while the industry waits for an official go-ahead from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

As of noon on Jan. 20, the approval has not been issued although most experts in the industry expect that it is imminent. They indicated that will come in the form of a ‘non-enforcement’ letter. That means production and importation can resume without fear of enforcement action even though the issue of how much HCFC can be produced remains a bit muddled. (Note: A letter was later issued.)

Complicating the issue is an EPA proposed rule issued on Dec. 30, 2011, titled HCFC-22 Production and Consumption Allocation Rights, which could speed up the phase down of HCFC production creating shortfalls earlier than had been anticipated.

On Jan. 1, 2010, a mandated reduction in the manufacturing of virgin R-22 went from 65 percent of the 1999 baseline year to 25 percent. A gradual yearly phase down was expected to continue until the spigot was totally shut off in 2030.

That ruling allocated 90 million pounds of R-22 for 2012. In this latest proposed rule, the EPA may reduce the quantity available for production and import in 2012 to as low as 55 million pounds.

The EPA is accepting comments on the proposal until Feb. 3, but may not issue a final ruling until summer.

Even when production and importation resumes, manufacturers may be more cautious in how much HCFC comes into the distribution channels while awaiting final numbers from EPA.

Publication date: 01/23/2012

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