North America

Washington State Legislature passes HFC-Reduction Bill Calling For Use of Alternative Refrigerants

As part of a series of bills addressing climate change, the Washington state legislature on Monday (Earth Day) passed House Bill 1112, which phases out the use of HFCs in various applications and calls for a study of how to increase the use of products that do not contain HFCs.

The bill passed 30-19, with every Democrat supporting it, along with two Republicans. It now goes to Governor Jay Inslee, who supports climate change legislation and is running for the Democratic party nomination for U.S. president on a platform largely focused on addressing climate change.

In a tweet, Inslee thanked the Washington legislature for agreeing to phase down use of “super-polluting hydrofluorocarbons,” in particular citing state representative Joe Fitzgibbon and state senator Reven Carlyle. “This bill had tremendous support from the private sector [and] I look forward to more states taking action on HFCs through [the U.S. Climate Alliance].” 

The bill describes HFCs as “air pollutants that pose significant threats to our environment,” adding that “safer alternatives for the most damaging hydrofluorocarbons are readily available and cost-effective.”

Washington is the latest member of the U.S. Climate Alliance, a bipartisan coalition of 22 state governors (and the governor of Puerto Rico) co-founded by Inslee, to commit to phasing down the use of HFCs. The other states are California, New York, Maryland and Connecticut. The alliance formed in response to the decision by the Trump administration to leave the global Paris climate-change accord.

The states addressing HFC reduction are coalescing around efforts spearheaded by California, which last year passed the California Cooling Act. The bill incorporates HFC regulations abandoned by the U.S. EPA and calls for incentives for natural refrigerant equipment. “It falls to the states to provide leadership on addressing hydrofluorocarbons,” said the text of House Bill 1112. “Doing so will not only help the climate, but will help American businesses retail their positions as global leaders in air conditioning and refrigerant technologies.”

This bill had tremendous support from the private sector [and] I look forward to more states taking action on HFCs through [the U.S. Climate Alliance]. 

– Washington Governor Jay Inslee

Last December, Inslee unveiled a $273 million climate action plan – including $959,000 to phase out HFCs – that would reduce greenhouse gases to 25% below 1990 levels by 2035.

House Bill 1112 puts Washington state on a course to phase down HFCs “in a manner similar to the regulations adopted by the [EPA] and that have been subsequently adopted or will be adopted in several other states around the country.” The EPA regulations include SNAP (Significant New Alternatives Policy) Rules 20 and 21, which stipulated the delisting of high-GWP HFCs in a variety of applications. The bill prohibits the sale or lease of equipment using those HFCs.

The bill sets January 1 deadlines for the prohibition of HFCs in specific applications, including 2020 for supermarket systems, 2021 for refrigerated food processing and dispensing equipment, 2022 for residential consumer refrigeration products (other than compact and built-in products), and 2023 for cold storage warehouses.

By December 31, 2019, all manufacturers must notify the Washington Department of Ecology of the status of each product class using restricted HFCs.

The law also calls for the Department of Ecology , in consultation with the Department of Commerce and the Utilities and Transportation Commission, to complete a report by December 1, 2020, that recommends how to “increase the use of refrigerants with a low global warming potential in mobile sources, utility equipment and consumer appliances” and incentivize “the elimination of legacy uses of hydrofluorcarbons.”