The U.S Supreme Court has declined to consider a review of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit’s decision to block the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) ban on HFCs. This leaves in place the decision from last year, which overturned the EPA’s directives to ban high-GWP refrigerants such as R-404A and R-410A from use in certain applications.

To recap, earlier this year, refrigerant manufacturers, Honeywell and Chemours, asked the Supreme Court to review an August 2017 decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, which stated the 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.

In response to the Supreme Court’s decision, Honeywell released the following statement: “While we are disappointed by the Supreme Court’s decision not to hear our appeal of the SNAP ruling, there is growing momentum for the phase out of HFCs in favor of safer, environmentally preferable solutions. This is illustrated most recently in the U.S. by commitments from California, Connecticut, New York, and Maryland. In addition, it is clear that many countries and regions around the world are also moving away from HFCs to safer, more efficient and environmentally preferable offerings, including HFOs. As a result, equipment manufacturers continue to partner with leading refrigerant makers to develop global platform solutions to ensure the world has access to solutions that meet increasingly stringent, societal-led energy efficiency and safety requirements.”

Chemours also indicated it is disappointed in the Supreme Court’s decision not to hear the appeal, noting in a statement, “We believe the Court missed an opportunity to continue the original intent of SNAP to direct the EPA to replace ozone-depleting substances with comparatively safer alternatives. However, with significant industry and environmental community support, there is continued momentum in the states to adopt SNAP rules 20 and 21 to continue the momentum toward phasing down the use of high global warming potential HFCs. California legislation adopted the rules in September and New York, Maryland, and Connecticut have just announced their intentions to take similar action. This momentum extends around the world as, to date, over 50 countries have ratified the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol.”

David Doniger, an attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), blasted the Supreme Court decision, stating, “The court’s decision lets irresponsible companies continue harming our planet — even though safer alternatives exist. Thankfully, states are stepping up. Four already have committed to curbing HFCs, and more are expected soon to follow the leadership of California, New York, Maryland, and Connecticut. NRDC will continue working with states and with responsible industry leaders to stay on track, and on schedule, in the transition to safe alternatives.”

The EPA is currently working on a new HFC policy.

Publication date: 11/7/2018


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