Chemours defends US programme that phases out HFCs

28 June 2018 19:52 Source:ICIS News

HOUSTON (ICIS)--Chemours defended a US programme that is phasing out the use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) as refrigerants and blowing agents used in polyurethanes, according to a statement obtained on Thursday.

A decision by a US appeals court threw out the programme. Chemours and Honeywell have petitioned the U Supreme Court to review the decision.

Both companies make hydrofluoroolefins (HFOs), which would replace HFCs.

The programme that would phase out the HFCs is called the Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP), and it is overseen by the nation's environmental regulator, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

HFCs are powerful greenhouse gases, which is why the EPA sought to phase them out.

In its ruling, the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia (DC) Circuit took issue with the EPA's rationale behind phasing out the HFCs.

To justify the phase-out, the EPA relied on a section of the nation's Clean Air Act that required manufacturers to replace substances that deplete the ozone layer, the DC Circuit said. That section of the law does not cover greenhouse gases.

HFCs are not ozone-depleting substances, the court said. As a result, the EPA's reading of that particular section of the Clean Air Act is inconsistent with what it actually says. As such, the DC Circuit threw out the EPA's plan to phase out HFCs.

“We are disappointed in the DC Circuit Court of Appeals decision and continue to believe that the legal basis of the SNAP 20 rule was well-founded, and the court’s ruling exceeded its jurisdiction, effectively invalidating a decades-old EPA regulation and failing to take into account the EPA’s original directive to ensure that safer alternatives are used to replace ozone-depleting substances,” according to a statement by Paul Kirsch, Chemours president of the fluoroproducts business unit.

“A number of states, academia and businesses share our concern and feel the preservation of this rule is in the best interest of the public, the environment and US industry,” he said.

Chemours is appealing the decision with Honeywell.

While Chemours's petition with the Supreme Court is pending, it will work with other trade groups to get the US Senate to ratify the Kigali Amendment, the company said.

This is an amendment to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, according to a document from the UN Environment Programme.

This amendment will add HFCs to the list of substances that would be phased down under the Montreal Protocol, the UN document said.

Chemours said the Kigali document would help US businesses to develop and sell new products. By adopting the amendment, Chemours said the US could create new jobs, benefit the nation's economy, discourage illegal dumping of HFCs and help the environment.

The company said it will talk with the administration of US President Donald Trump about advancing ratification of the amendment in the Senate.

The case number in the US Supreme Court is 17A933.

By Al Greenwood