The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently reported a series of enforcement measures meant to crack down on the illegal import of HFCs. These measures included imposing civil penalties on three HFC importers who failed to report their imported quantities in violation of the Clean Air Act's (CAA’s) Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program. The Agency’s landmark settlements with the importers included Artsen Chemical America LLC receiving a $247,601 penalty; Harp USA Inc. receiving a $275,000 penalty; and the IGas Companies receiving a $382,473 penalty. The EPA is actively pursuing similar actions against other importers who failed to report their HFC shipments.
Additionally, the EPA recently issued notices of violation (NOVs) to alleged violators who imported regulated substances without required allowances, marking the first NOVs issued under the AIM Act. As part of the AIM Act, EPA created an HFC allocation methodology that granted allowances to companies that produced and/or imported HFCs in 2020, based on the three highest non-consecutive years of production or import between 2011 and 2019. In order to legally import HFCs, companies must use these allowances, which EPA considers to be critical in ensuring the success of the HFC phasedown in the U.S. The Agency notes that illegal imports not only undermine the phasedown program but also disadvantage companies that comply with regulations.
The NOVs issued to the three companies accused of importing regulated substances without the required allowances include: HVAC Services in Mission, Texas, for importing approximately 3,379 kg of R-404A, 6,441 kg of R-410A, and 1,100 kg of R-407C from Mexico; Oldach Associates LLC in Catano, Puerto Rico, for importing approximately 17,985 kg of R-404A and 13,221 kg of R-410A from China; and Open Mountain Energy LLC in Lehi, Utah, for importing approximately 20,000 kg of HFC-245fa from China.
"These NOVs demonstrate EPA's commitment to enforcing the AIM Act of 2020," said Larry Starfield, acting assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “In addition, our Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program settlements with HFC importers recognize that accurate data is essential for setting sound climate change policy.”
Stopping illegal HFC imports is a top priority of a federal interagency task force that includes EPA and U.S. Customs and Border Protection. In fiscal year 2022, the task force prevented illegal HFC imports equal to more than 889,000 metric tons of CO2, which equates to the CO2 released from powering 173,000 homes with electricity for a year.
EPA notes that alleged violators of the AIM Act can be reported at https://echo.epa.gov/report-environmental-violations.
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