ALBANY, N.Y. — Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced he was directing the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to promulgate regulations to phase out the use of HFCs, a group of greenhouse gas pollutants used in a wide variety of applications. The regulations would adopt the 2015 and 2016 changes to the Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP) that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is abandoning under the Trump administration.

 "While the Trump administration denies climate change and rolls back efforts to protect our planet, New York is picking up the mantle of climate leadership and forging a path forward," Cuomo said. "We are taking action to begin the phase out of the use of hydrofluorocarbons, and I encourage other states to join with New York and California to combat dangerous HFCs. In New York we believe denial is not a life strategy, and we will continue to fight climate change to protect our economy, our planet, and our future."

The regulations would prohibit specific substances for use in new consumer products, new equipment, and equipment that is retrofit after the compliance dates, including aerosol propellants, commercial and residential food refrigeration equipment, commercial air-conditioning equipment, light-duty vehicle air-conditioning, and foam-blowing agents. The phase out, which would be implemented from 2020-2024, is expected to reduce HFC emissions by more than 20 percent of projected levels by 2030. DEC will be seeking input on this proposal prior to proceeding with a formal rulemaking, with the intent of finalizing a rule in 2019.

The regulations advance Cuomo's directive in the 2018 State of the State address for DEC to work with other state agencies to reduce the emission of HFCs in New York. New York's proposal will also help to achieve the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement, as well as the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol to reduce the use of HFCs as a substitute for ozone-depleting substances. 

With the finalization of this proposal, New York will join California and Canada in requiring the phase-out of these dangerous pollutants. The requirement to phase out HFCs in these substantial markets will help to drive industry to phase out these pollutants nationally and globally. In addition, U.S.-based businesses that produce the substitutes for HFCs will benefit from New York's leadership in taking this action.

State funding is available to accelerate the reduction of the use of HFCs more quickly. The Environmental Protection Fund includes nearly $9 million through the Climate Smart Communities program for adaption and greenhouse gas mitigation projects, including grants for municipalities to reduce refrigerant leakage; replace or retrofit refrigeration, chillers, or air-conditioning equipment (e.g., food-storage or ice-rink equipment) with low global-warming-potential refrigerants; install refrigerant leakage monitoring equipment; establish monitoring and repair plans; establish enhanced disposal programs to recover and recycle refrigerants; and adopt codes or standards to encourage the use of alternative refrigerants. An additional $1 million from the EPF will be available for other projects to address HFCs and other short-lived climate pollutants.

New York is also taking aggressive measures to help consumers access energy efficient appliances and other solutions to reduce their carbon footprint.  The State offers rebates for certain new appliance or equipment purchases, and consumers statewide can access energy efficiency programs through either NYSERDA or their local utility.

New York announced this new step against HFCs at the Global Climate Action Summit, held Sept.13-14 in San Francisco.

"As the Trump administration continues to roll back our progress and deny the impact of climate change, New York is stepping up and continuing to ensure our environment is protected and safe," said Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul. "We are working to phase out the use of hydrofluorocarbons in products to reduce emissions and help to achieve our goals as part of the Paris Climate Agreement and to decrease greenhouse gas emissions."

"Today's announcement demonstrates New York's leadership in reducing high-intensity pollutants like HFCs and methane that contribute to climate change," said Basil Seggos, DEC commissioner. "Under Gov. Cuomo's leadership, New York is working with other states in the U.S. Climate Alliance to reduce emissions of these dangerous pollutants and safeguard our children's future. DEC's development of the proposed regulation serves to implement the Short-Lived Climate Pollutant Challenge that New York and other Climate Alliance states announced in June 2018."

"Reducing harmful emissions is critical to safeguarding the health of all New Yorkers and protecting our precious natural resources," added Alicia Barton, president and CEO, NYSERDA. "Gov. Cuomo continues to demonstrate through his nation-leading clean energy policies and investments the critical leadership needed to advance solutions that address some of our most pressing environmental challenges and take head-on our fight on climate change."

Publication date: 9/14/2018

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