Washington State Governor Jay Inslee recently signed a package of climate bills including HB 1050, a bill to regulate HFCs. Sponsored by Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon, the bill sets a maximum GWP threshold and applies strict regulations for HFCs. The legislature first regulated HFCs in 2019.

“There are safer alternatives to these chemicals. Since we first adopted our standards in 2019, we have seen manufacturers step up to the plate with alternatives, states across the county adopting our legislation, and the U.S. Congress taking bipartisan action to accelerate the transition away from these chemicals,” said Fitzgibbon.

The U.S. Congress passed a bill in December of 2020 to require an 85% economy-wide phasedown of the HFC refrigerant supply over the next 15 years. This will avoid the equivalent of over 4.7 billion metric tons of CO2 by 2050.

“Washington state has cemented its leadership role on HFCs with this bill, which calls for transitioning new cooling systems to more climate-friendly alternatives and makes significant strides toward improving management and disposal of refrigerants,” said Christina Starr, senior policy analyst at the Environmental Investigation Agency. “States have an essential role in advancing U.S. climate action by adopting laws like HB 1050, which supports ambitious federal implementation of the HFC phase down nationwide.”

The reduction called for in HB 1050 is expected to reduce the climate impact of refrigerants used in air conditioners by roughly 70% and in commercial refrigeration systems by around 90%. The law will ban the use of HFCs with a GWP of over 750 in all stationary air conditioning systems by 2026, similar to regulations recently approved by the California Air Resources Board. The bill also directs the Department of Ecology to set up a refrigerant management program to safely manage and dispose of HFCs going forward.

According to AHRI, the bill adds a provision that that the specified deadlines would only apply if the state building code council adopts ASHRAE and UL safety standards (ASHRAE 15, 15.2 and 34, and UL standard UL 60335-2-40 edition 4) into the state building code before January 1, 2023.

“We are very pleased to have worked with Representative Fitzgibbon on legislation that provides sufficient planning time and the necessary tools not only to enable the use of low GWP refrigerants, but also to align with the national transition under the American Innovation and Manufacturing (AIM) Act mandate,” said Helen Walter-Terrinoni, vice president of regulatory affairs for AHRI.

“We’ve got a heck of a job to do in the years to come. Our climate commitment, made by our legislature in 2020, is to cut climate pollution by over 50% in the next nine years, on our pathway to net-zero climate pollution by 2050. It won’t be easy, but these bills go a long ways to getting us there,” said Inslee.

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