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State Announces Rule Prohibiting Use of HFC Pollutants
12:35PM / Friday, October 16, 2020
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BOSTON — The Baker-Polito Administration released a proposed regulation to prohibit the use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), the fastest growing source of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions nationally and in Massachusetts. 
HFCs are currently used in certain end-use products, such as aerosols, air conditioners and chillers, refrigeration units and foams. The regulations will help to significantly reduce local GHG emissions and will place the Commonwealth in line with 16 other states adopting comparable HFC regulations or legislation, coordinated by the U.S. Climate Alliance (USCA).
“Building on our Administration's ongoing commitment to fight climate change, these regulations address a powerful pollutant," Governor Charlie Baker said. “By taking this action in bipartisan coordination with states across the country, we can make a significant impact on greenhouse gas emissions and protect public health."
HFCs are greenhouse gasses with a global warming potential that is tens to thousands of times more potent than carbon dioxide, the most common greenhouse gas.  In 2018, HFC emissions in Massachusetts reached 3.69 million metric tons of carbon dioxide-equivalent (MMTCO2E), and HFC emissions were expected to reach 5 million metric tons in 2030 if action was not taken. The regulation announced today is expected to reduce annual HFC emissions in Massachusetts by 0.77 million metric tons CO2 equivalents.
The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection regulation would prohibit selling, leasing, renting, and manufacturing HFC-containing products and equipment. The prohibitions phase in over time based on the end-use, with the earliest prohibitions taking effect on Jan. 1, 2021 and the last prohibitions taking effect on Jan. 1, 2024. The dates of prohibition are based on U.S. Environmental Protection Agency analysis of available product alternatives.
The public comment period on the draft regulation will be open through Nov. 3, 2020. A virtual public meeting will be held on Oct. 23.
“By acting regionally, we can make a much larger impact on climate change than by acting alone," Energy and Environmental Secretary Kathleen Theoharides said. “This rule is our latest multi-state climate effort and reinforces the importance of such action, including the Administration's leadership among Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states as part of the Transportation and Climate Initiative."
MassDEP sought public input on proposing such a regulation through two public meetings held on Nov. 18 and 20, 2019 to gather stakeholder input.
In April 2020, the Baker-Polito Administration established net zero GHG emissions as the Commonwealth's new legal emissions limit for 2050.  The Commonwealth is working to determine how best to achieve this emissions limit through its 2050 Roadmap, a nation-leading quantitative and qualitative planning effort that will chart multiple technical and policy pathways by which the Commonwealth can equitably and cost-effectively achieve net zero emissions by 2050, and will conclude with the publication of a long-range 2050 Roadmap report. The state's 2050 Roadmap analysis will directly inform the state's 2030 emissions limit, which will be set at the end of this year together with the publication of a second report detailing the state's plan to achieve that limit, the Massachusetts Clean Energy and Climate Plan for 2030.
As transportation emissions account for more than 40 percent of all emissions, the Administration is leading a group of 12 states and the District of Columbia through the Transportation and Climate Initiative (TCI) in a bipartisan effort to develop a regional cap-and-invest program that would reduce emissions in the transportation sector and support transportation-related investments, including an estimated $500 million per year in Massachusetts.
HFCs are synthetic gases and, historically, replaced ozone-depleting chlorofluorocarbons as a refrigerant. For more information on HFCs and their impact on climate change, see here.
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