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EPA seeks ban on climate-hostile chemicals

The US Environmental Protection Agency is proposing to prohibit the use of certain chemicals that significantly contribute to climate change, an action aimed at reducing greenhouse gases by up to 42 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent by 2020.

This action is estimated to reduce greenhouse gases equal to the carbon dioxide emissions from the annual electricity use of more than five million homes.

Under the new EPA proposal, certain chemicals where safer, more climate-friendly alternatives exist will be banned. This is the agency’s second action aimed at reducing emissions of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), a class of potent greenhouse gases, under President Obama’s Climate Action Plan.

The HFCs and HFC-containing blends affected by EPA’s new proposal are used in aerosols, motor vehicle air conditioning, retail food refrigeration and vending machines, and foam blowing.

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said the new proposal “builds on the innovative work businesses across the country have already made to reduce and replace some of the most harmful chemicals with safer, more climate-friendly alternatives that are available on the market today”

“President Obama called on us to take action against potent greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change…This action will not only result in significant reductions of harmful greenhouse gases, but it will also encourage businesses to continue bringing safer alternatives to market,” McCarthy said.

Under the authority of the Clean Air Act, EPA’s Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP) Program evaluates substitute chemicals and technologies that are safe for the ozone layer. The proposed action would change the status of certain high-global warming potential (GWP) HFCs that were previously listed as acceptable under the SNAP Program to be unacceptable in specific end-uses based on information showing that other alternatives are available for the same uses that pose lower risk overall to human health or the climate.

EPA said the agency received input from industry, environmental groups and others through workshops and meetings over the past year on this proposal.

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