The Washington Department of Ecology is proposing a new regulation to restrict the use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) – “super pollutants” that have thousands of times more climate-change impact than carbon dioxide.
The rule will require manufacturers to stop using certain HFCs in new air conditioners (including heat pumps) and commercial refrigeration equipment sold in Washington. It also will create a new refrigerant management program to establish how Washington businesses and industries must maintain existing equipment.
“The new refrigerant management program will address the approximately 3.4 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent that leak into the atmosphere every year,” said Len Machut, who leads Ecology’s HFC unit. “That’s equivalent to what comes out of the tailpipes of about 740,000 cars. While HFCs pose a real risk to the climate, the good news is that safer alternatives are readily available. Many manufacturers have already made the switch.”
HFCs are a type of fluorinated gas that have largely replaced chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) as refrigerants because those gases were depleting the Earth’s ozone layer. With increased global demand for cooling and refrigeration, HFCs are now the fastest-growing category of greenhouse gas emissions in the world, and are disproportionately contributing to the climate crisis.
The Washington Legislature passed the HFC law in 2021, requiring manufacturers to use safer refrigerants and prevent the accidental release of HFCs from existing equipment. The law also requires Ecology to ban the sale of some consumer products, including air horns and other noisemakers.
HFC restrictions are part of a suite of Washington climate policies designed to reduce the state’s greenhouse gas emissions 95 percent by 2050. The state law complements federal EPA requirements to transition to more environmentally friendly refrigerants.
Ecology is accepting public comments on this rule through Aug. 31, 2023.
Submit comments online, by mail, or at a public hearing:
- Mail to: Linda Kildahl
Department of Ecology
Air Quality Program
P.O. Box 47600
Olympia, WA 98504-7600
Ecology will hold an online public hearing at 10 a.m. on Thursday, Aug. 24, 2023.
We will provide an overview of the proposed rule and hold a question-and-answer period, followed by public comment.