The Environmental Protection Agency has issued a final rule that, effective Dec.26, prohibits certain import and export as part of a new restriction on the use of hydrofluorocarbons in specific sectors and subsectors.

HFCs are gases used as replacements for ozone-depleting substances in a variety of applications but themselves have significant potential to increase global warming. In October 2021 the EPA issued a final rule that aims to decrease the importation and production of HFCs in the U.S. by 85 percent over the next 15 years. The EPA said at that time that as part of a whole-of-government approach to prevent the illegal trade, production, use, or sale of HFCs it would work with U.S. Customs and Border Protection to stop illegal HFC imports, including by preventing the exploitation of U.S. customs laws.

The new final rule implements additional measures by restricting the use of HFCs, whether neat or used in a blend, with high global warming potentials within the refrigeration, air conditioning, and heat pump; foam; and aerosol sectors. Among other things this rule prohibits the importation, manufacture, or installation of certain equipment across approximately 40 subsectors, based on either overall GWP limits or restrictions on use of specific HFCs. The compliance dates for these restrictions vary from Jan. 1, 2025, to Jan. 1, 2028, depending on the subsector.

This rule also (1) prohibits the export, sale, and distribution of factory-completed products that do not comply with the relevant restrictions three years after the prohibition on importation and manufacture and (2) finalizes labeling, annual reporting, and recordkeeping requirements for products and specified components that are imported or domestically manufactured that use or are intended to use an HFC.

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