Federal Court Refuses to Hear Appeal of Decision Overturning R-134a Rule


On Jan. 26, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia rejected an appeal that sought to dispute a previous decision regarding the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) ban of certain refrigerants, namely R-134a. The appeal was filed by competing refrigerant manufacturers Honeywell and Chemours, as well as the Natural Resource Defense Council, who supported EPA’s decision to force companies to transition away from refrigerants with high global warming potential (GWP).

EPA issued a regulation in 2015 designating R-134a as an unacceptable substitute for ozone-depleting substances in aerosol products and motor vehicle air conditioners, with bans commencing in 2016 and model year 2021 respectively. The court nullified these bans last summer, ruling that EPA lacked authority under the Section 612 Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP) to require companies to forego use of a substance previously approved under the program as an ozone-depleting product.

With the court deciding not to take up the appeal, EPA now must determine whether to abandon the entire SNAP rule altogether or undertake a new rulemaking to address the use of R-134a in motor vehicles and consumer products.

As stated previously, this ruling does not pertain to regulations from 2016 that prohibited the sale of R-134a to non-certified individuals, which took effect Jan. 1, 2018. The exemption remains for under two-pound containers of R-134a equipped with self-sealing valves and retailers are able to sell through non-complying products produced prior to the effective date.