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AHRI expects formal challenge to US Appeals Court HFC ruling

Court’s decision calling on the EPA to revise a 2015 ruling requiring shift to lower-GWP alternatives is likely to face a further legal challenge as appeal deadline nears

 

The Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI) expects a formal request to be made to the US Federal Appeals Court to review its decision last month to reverse an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ruling branding HFC use as ‘unacceptable’.

The deadline to appeal against the court’s ruling, which required the EPA to revise its 2015 position on requiring HFCs to be replaced with lower-GWP alternatives such as HFOs and natural refrigerants, is set for today (September 22).

A spokesperson for industry body AHRI said it had already notified the EPA that it would welcome the agency to request an ‘en banc’ review of the 3-judge panel’s decision made in August. This would see a broader number of judges reviewing the Appeals Court decision to revise the EPA ruling.

The spokesperson expected a formal request for the review to be submitted before the deadline passes.

 “Whether or not the EPA appeals, it is likely others involved in the case will,” said the AHRI.

 Despite concerns about the impact of the decision in August to revise the EPA’s push to curb use of HFCs, AHRI claimed that the industry was “fully committed to the global phase down” of use of the substances for cooling.

The association said that as a non-party to the case, it was prohibited from appealing itself, even if it chose to.

 A spokesperson for the institute said, “The only thing we can do is what we’ve done, namely coordinate with parties to the case. Any additional AHRI action will be decided on after the September 22 appeal deadline.”

Original ruling

The US Federal Appeals Court ruled in favour of refrigerant manufacturers Arkema and Mexichem in august that the EPA couldn’t require HFC to be replaced under the terms of the Clean Air Act. 

The three judges hearing the case concluded that the rules under the act were intended to cover ozone depletion rather than global warning.

As neither manufacturer has suitable substitutes commercially available to the HFCs, they argued the EPA’s original ruling was unfair to their business.

The Appeal Court decision has been condemned for standing in the way of progress towards a lower-GWP-refrigeration industry, as is being pursued in Europe via the F-Gas regulations.

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