Several reclaimers, refrigerant manufacturers, and distributors — operating under the title New Era Group Inc.— notified the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on April 2 that they intend to file suit against the EPA, claiming the federal agency is allowing excessive amounts of virgin and imported hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFC)-22 into the U.S. market.

New Era wants the EPA to explain the procedures it used to justify its allocations. In addition to the 51 million pound allocation already in effect for 2014, the EPA is offering two proposals for a continued step down in R-22 production to allow a final phaseout in either 2018 or 2020, depending on the proposal.

In a written statement, New Era said it wants a satisfactory response from the EPA by early June or litigation will be initiated.

The statement, which failed to include specific company names, explained the purpose of the pending suit is to compel the EPA to correct regulatory defects that have resulted in excessive production of ozone-depleting chemicals.

The “ozone-depleting chemicals” is very likely a reference to virgin R-22.

The statement went on to say, “Overproduction has created substantial risks of unnecessary and avoidable emissions of ozone-depleting chemicals as well as carbon and has severely restricted the development of reclamation, alternative refrigerant production, and conservation capabilities, which are needed in order to minimize the environmental harms associated with these chemicals.”

New Era wants more contractors to take existing inventories of R-22 and submit them for reclamation to be brought back to AHRI-700 purity levels; and opt to have hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) refrigerants retrofitted into an R-22 system.

Information compiled using press releases courtesy of New Era Group Inc. NEWS Refrigeration Editor Peter Powell contributed to this report.

Publication date: 4/4/2014

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