US EPA is ready to issue a Final Rule that will cut domestic production and use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) by 85% by 2036. Once enacted, the American Innovation and Manufacturing Act, or AIM Act, would be the Biden Administration’s first major legislation to combat planet-warming greenhouse gases.
HFCs are greenhouse gases used in a wide variety of applications, including refrigeration, air-conditioning, building insulation, and aerosols. EPA is concerned about HFCs due to their high global-warming potential.
Experts believe HFCs could be thousands of times more dangerous for Earth’s ozone layer than carbon dioxide.
EPA proposed the first AIM Act regulation in May 2021
, recommending steps US manufacturers should take to phase down HFCs, and outlining allowance allocations for importing bulk HFCs
in 2022 and 2023. EPA will need to draft a new rule for future allocations.
EPA is expected to finalize the major climate regulation by September 23, 2021, which would then take effect sometime in 2022.
EPA Fact Sheet
The mandate would put the US on the path to meet its ozone emissions goals set by the 2016 Kigali Amendment of the Montreal Protocol. The Kigali Amendment
went into effect in 2019 in an international effort to reduce consumption and production of HFCs.
The US Senate has yet to ratify the amendment. The White House plans to send the documents required for Senate ratification in the coming days.
The Montreal Protocol
The Montreal Protocol on Substances That Deplete the Ozone Layer was signed on September 16, 1987 and has been ratified by 197 parties (all member states of the United Nations, as well as Niue, the Cook Islands, the Holy See, and the European Union), making it the most universally adopted UN treaty or protocol in history. The Protocol called for the phase-out of ozone-depleting substances (ODS) by certain deadlines in order to facilitate stratospheric ozone protection and recovery.
After initial ratification, EPA adopted essentially a “worst first” approach to phasing out ODS, accomplished by establishing two classes of ODS, Class I and Class II, and two separate timelines for the phase-out of ODS.
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