EPA moves to phase out ozone-depleting chemicals

The Environmental Protection Agency moved to phase out chemicals that deplete the planet’s ozone layer and exacerbate climate change.

EPA chief Gina McCarthyGina McCarthyEPA chief: Pipeline rejections are not a ‘policy signal’ Five potential Trump EPA picks Overnight Energy: EPA stands firm on fuel standards MORE signed a rule last night targeting hydrochloroflourocarbons (HCFCs), used in air conditioning and refrigeration equipment installed prior to 2010.

The new rule issues production and consumption limits for four HCFCs from 2015-2019, stopping complete production of the chemicals by 2020.

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"This rule finalizes allowed amounts of HCFC production and import in 2015-2019 that protect human health and the environment, while also encouraging transition to non-ozone-depleting alternatives and greater recycling of existing HCFCs,” the EPA said in a statement.

“This rule should promote a smooth and stable transition, since without this rule, domestic production and consumption of these HCFCs is prohibited as of January 1, 2015,” the agency added.

The finalized rule is stronger than the one EPA originally proposed, which would have set a higher cap on production, drawing ire from advocates who said industry could stockpile the chemicals to use indefinitely.

Despite the more stringent final rule, some environmentalists said the EPA still didn’t go far enough.

“EPA missed an opportunity today to better protect our health and climate. EPA should be pushing for a faster phase-out of these dangerous ozone-depleting and heat-trapping chemicals,” said David Doniger, director of the Natural Resources Defense Councils climate program. 

“That would more quickly heal the ozone layer, cutting skin cancer and other illnesses, and help stop global warming. A faster phase-out would lead to a quicker transition to safer alternatives,” Doniger said.

Others applauded the agency’s final decision, calling it a “landmark rule making.”

Mark W. Roberts of the Environmental Investigation Agency said the rule would have “significant implications.”

“The effect of the reduced allocations proposed by EPA will be a big step toward restoring the ozone layer and protecting the global climate by incentivizing companies to increase leak prevention, HCFC-22 recovery, and recycling due to the reducing stocks of virgin HCFCs,” Roberts said.