Last November, the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) finalized regulations to phase out the use of HFCs and reduce methane emissions to help meet the state’s aggressive climate and environmental goals for reducing greenhouse gases. Those regulations became effective this month, meaning that refrigerants including R-404A and R-507A are now prohibited for use in many types of commercial refrigeration equipment.
The regulations target HFCs in refrigeration, commercial air conditioning, foam products, and aerosol propellants, and MDE has also finalized regulations to reduce methane emissions from energy infrastructure and operations. These dual actions are designed to help Maryland meet its requirements under the state’s Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Act, which was signed into law by Governor Hogan.
“These fast-acting super-pollutants, HFCs, are a major threat to our climate progress and deserve to be phased out at the state and federal level,” said Ben Grumbles, secretary of MDE. “We’re using science, regulation, and market-based incentives for sustainable solutions that dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”
In moving to phase out HFCs, Maryland is acting in concert with commitments of the U. S. Climate Alliance to reduce HFCs, which it says can be hundreds to thousands of times more potent than carbon dioxide in contributing to climate change per unit of mass.
The Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Act requires reductions of greenhouse gases in Maryland by 40% by 2030 – requirements that are among the most aggressive in the country and significantly more stringent than those in the Paris Climate Accord – while continuing to have a net positive effect on the economy and job creation. Maryland participates in the U.S. Climate Alliance and is a member of the multi-state Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI).
Traditionally, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulated the use of HFCs under a federal Clean Air Act program. However, after two HFC rules issued by the EPA stalled due to legal challenges, states began their own initiatives. MDE’s finalized regulations would reduce HFC emissions by adopting the stalled federal prohibitions for air conditioning and refrigeration equipment, aerosol propellants, and foam uses.
The MDE states that the phase out of HFCs will encourage the use of widely available alternatives with lower emissions. Under the finalized regulations, HFC emissions are estimated to be reduced annually by 25% by 2030, representing a total reduction of 4.95 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent over 10 years.