Recent USEPA Rulings To Reduce GHGs


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Over the last few months the USEPA has begun to implement rules to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Not the traditional way by having affected facilities measure and reduce GHG emissions, but instead by encouraging operational changes to accomplish the same goal. 2 rulings that can affect businesses are discussed here.

1. Alternative refrigerants. This past December the USEPA announced approval of 3 alternative refrigerants to replace hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) in commercial and household freezers which had previously been encouraged because of their negligible effects on stratospheric ozone. HFCs are potent GHGs with global warming potentials in the range of 93 to 12,100 (CO2’s GWP: 1). The use of propane, isobutane, and R-441A (a hydrocarbon blend known as HCR188C) are now suitable replacements for chlorofluorocarbon CFC-12 and hydrochlorofluorocarbon HCFC-22 in household refrigerators, freezers, combination units, and commercial stand-alone units. See:

According to the USEPA, such replacement of refrigerants will reduce GHG emissions by about 600,000 metric tons by 2020.

2. Heavy-duty engines and vehicles. Late last year, the USEPA also announced new GHG emission standards for heavy-duty engines and vehicles, necessary due to a US Supreme Court ruling a few years ago that the USEPA was required to regulate GHG emissions from mobile sources. These standards do not apply to typical passenger vehicles, but do apply to trucks, buses, heavy-duty pickups and vans, concrete mixers, ambulances, etc. Certain small business trucks are exempt.

As summarized in 40 CFR Part 1037, beginning with model year 2014, heavy duty vehicles must meet fleet average GHG emission standards for CO2, N2O, and CH4, generally in g/mile. Standards toughen in future years. They are a 55:45 weighted average of city and highway driving and differ whether the model is spark- or compression-ignition. HFCs, common refrigerant in such vehicles, are regulated by leak rate. Leakage cannot exceed 1.50% per year. The burden of compliance is on the vehicle manufacturer, who must obtain proper certification. The manufacturer can receive carbon credits for superior performance, including advanced technology. The business or vehicle consumer or user is not obligated to report or perform any testing.

CCES technical experts can help you assess your current GHG emissions and to plan economic strategies to reduce GHG emissions and meet these and all requirements. We can recommend technical solutions that will pay for themselves in savings.

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