California’s HFC Regulation Empowers States to Limit Use of Super-Pollutants

After a federal court blocked a portion of EPA’s authority to regulate HFCs, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) was left in a bind because of their reliance on the EPA’s Significant New Alternatives Program rules to help meet California’s preexisting emission reduction goals for HRCs, which in turn are important to ensure California ultimately meets its larger climate goals. “As a result of the recent court decision, California had to pass its own regulation to ensure it could meet these goals,” CARB said in a statement.

The regulation it promulgated in March of 2018 affects certain stationary refrigeration and foam end-uses. It preserves emission reductions from specific sectors with past or shortly upcoming compliance deadlines and will “prevent manufacturers from backsliding or start using high-global warming HFCs again,” according to the CARB statement. The regulation applies mainly to equipment manufacturers, which cannot use prohibited HFCs in new refrigeration equipment or foams.

Prohibited HFCs cannot be used in new equipment and materials in California for the following end-uses:

  • Supermarkets and remote condensing units used by convenience stores;
  • Refrigerated food processing and dispensing equipment, such as Slurpee machines and frozen yogurt dispensers;
  • Stand-alone, or small self-contained refrigeration units;
  • Refrigerated vending machines; and
  • Foams used in buildings and other places.

It also requires that they have a disclosure statement that certifies that products use only compliant refrigerants or foam expansion agents.

"Washington may have dropped the ball on curbing HFCs, but leading states can keep industry on track to replace these super-potent heat-trapping pollutants with safer alternatives—benefitting our health and the climate."


David Doniger,
Senior Strategic Director of NRDC’s Climate and Clean Energy Program