Refrigerant manufacturers, Honeywell and The Chemours Co., have asked the Supreme Court to review a 2017 decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, which stated the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) could not ban HFCs through its Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP) program, because that program was designed only to address ozone-depleting substances. While HFCs are among the greenhouse gases suspected of contributing to climate change, they do not deplete the ozone layer.

“We are disappointed in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals decision and continue to believe that the legal basis of the SNAP 20 rule was well-founded, and the Court’s ruling exceeded its jurisdiction, effectively invalidating a decades-old EPA regulation and failing to take into account the EPA’s original directive to ensure that safer alternatives are used to replace ozone-depleting substances,” said Paul Kirsch, president of Chemours’ fluoroproducts business unit. “A number of states, academia, and businesses share our concern and feel the preservation of this rule is in the best interest of the public, the environment, and U.S. industry.”

A statement from Honeywell noted that, “despite agreeing with the EPA that replacement solutions such as hydrofluoro-olefins (HFOs) are safer than certain HFCs, the court ruled that ozone-depleting substances could only be replaced once, even if the replacements themselves are unsafe and new and safer substitutes are available. The decision ignores Congress’s intent in directing the EPA to replace ozone-depleting substances with the safest available alternatives…American companies have invested more than $1 billion to invent, commercialize, and manufacture safer replacement alternatives to ozone-depleting substances, such as HFOs. The D.C. Circuit decision undermines the innovation and investments that American businesses have made to create and transition to safer alternatives.”

The EPA SNAP program was developed in the 1990s to protect the ozone layer by phasing out the chemicals that deplete it, such as CFCs. Chemours explained that Congress directed EPA to compare alternatives to those chemicals to ensure that refrigerants and other products would not be more dangerous to people and the environment than the harmful products they replaced. The original 1994 regulation viewed the alternatives banned by the SNAP program in 2015 as a “near-term” solution until safer products became available. The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed that these products could be banned, but then held that no one who was using them could actually be ordered to stop, even though safer options were available, said Chemours. The decision has created confusion for the industry and does not align with the direction from Congress or its beneficial goals, noted the company, and also undermines investment in safer products and American innovation in these critical industries.

Chemours states that it will continue to work with a growing number of industry stakeholders, including the Alliance for Responsible Atmospheric Policy and the Air-Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI), to dialogue with the Trump Administration about building on the achievements of the Montreal Protocol by advancing the Kigali Amendment toward ratification in the United States Senate in 2018. According to Chemours, the Kigali Amendment provides the U.S. with a unique opportunity to allow American businesses to innovate and sell in global markets the products made possible by their research and development and manufacturing investments made here at home. Adoption of the agreement will create good-paying American jobs, positively impact the U.S.’s domestic economy, curtail illegal dumping of HFCs, and benefit the environment, the company added.

Publication date: 6/26/2018

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