WASHINGTON — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has sent “No Action Assurance” letters to the producers and importers of the refrigerants R-22 and R-142b, setting the 2013 production and consumption allocations for manufacturers of these gases. When compared to 2012, R-22 production will be reduced in the coming year, but the total reduction is still uncertain.

According to the Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA), in 2013 the total amount of R-22 that may be legally produced or imported is about 39.5 million pounds, compared with about 55 million pounds allocated for 2012. While this represents about a 28 percent reduction compared to last year, the allowance is not final and will likely increase when the EPA completes a pending allocation rulemaking.

The latest No Action Assurance letters extend and modify similar letters issued last year and allow companies to continue to produce and import R-22 and R-142b. The letters are necessary because the EPA has yet to finalize a pending rule that would grant the authority to produce HCFCs, known as the 2012-2014 Allocation Adjustment Rule. EPA allocation rules are designed to phase out and eventually eliminate the production and use of HCFCs by 2030.

The 2012-2014 Allocation Adjustment Rule process began in 2011. The process was delayed and on Jan. 1, 2012, gas producers did not have the legal authority to produce or import R-22 or R-142b. As a result, the EPA issued initial No Action Assurance letters on Jan. 20, 2012, to allow the gas producers to continue production without enforcement or penalty. Those No Action Assurance letters expired on Dec. 31, 2012.

The new No Action Assurance letters act as a temporary allocation rule until the EPA finalizes the pending 2012-2014 Allocation Adjustment Rule.

When EPA does finalize its rule, ACCA noted, there will likely be at least 6.5 million pounds added to the 2013 allocation, which would make the total year to year reduction closer to 15 percent. This will be part of an adjustment required to recoup allocation losses by two HCFC producers who had completed a legal trade of allocations that EPA had failed to recognize in a previous allocation rule.

It is hoped that the 2012-2014 Allocation Adjustment Rule will be finalized in the next four months, said ACCA.

Publication date: 1/7/2013