February 14, 2017
In the final months of the Obama administration, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized several important environmental rules that may affect many facilities across many industries, including new rules on refrigerant management, risk management planning, greenhouse gas (GHG) reporting, and electronic reporting under the New Source Performance Standards. The implications of these rules, assuming they are not rolled back, are discussed below.
Broad New Refrigerant Management Requirements
On November 18, 2016, EPA published the final rule, Protection of Stratospheric Ozone: Update to the Refrigerant Management Requirements under the Clean Air Act in the Federal Register (81 FR 82272). These updates, which represent a major overhaul of the provisions of 40 CFR Part 82, Subpart F, were originally proposed on November 11, 2015. The final rule, which includes numerous changes to the proposed rule in response to comments received, became effective January 1, 2017, with varying compliance dates, depending on the provision, of January 1, 2017; January 1, 2018 (one year after effective date); and January 1, 2019 (two years). Important changes in the final rule are listed below, with applicable compliance dates indicated.
- Significant expansion of the applicability of the rule to refrigerants containing non-ozone depleting substances (ODS), including clarification of "exempt substitutes" and "non-exempt substitutes" in order to better identify which non-ODS substitutes are exempt and are not subject to any provisions of the rule (compliance date varies depending on provision)
- Imposition of additional recordkeeping requirements for disposal of small appliances when the full charge leaked out due to unavoidable occurrences (1/1/2017) and for disposal of appliances with full charge > 5 pounds and < 50 pounds (1/1/2018)
- Lowering of allowable leak rate thresholds from 35% to 30% for industrial process refrigeration appliances, from 35% to 20% for commercial refrigeration appliances, and from 15% to 10% for comfort cooling and other appliances (1/1/2019)
- Triggering of leak inspection requirements if the leak rate exceeds the lower allowable leak rate thresholds in the rule; frequency of required inspections dependent on type and full charge of appliance (1/1/2019)
- Establishment of annual "significant leaker" reporting provisions for units that leak ≥ 125% of full charge in a calendar year (1/1/2019)
- Expansion of the applicability of initial and follow-up verification testing requirements to commercial refrigeration, comfort cooling, and other appliances, and reduction in the time allowed for follow-up verification tests to be performed from 30 days to 10 days after a successful initial verification test (1/1/2019)
- Significant expansion of explicit recordkeeping requirements under the leak repair provisions (1/1/2019)
Under the new rule, EPA anticipates that more consistent and better treatment practices for commonly used refrigerants will reduce annual GHG emissions by 7.3 MMTCO2eq. Affected facilities should perform a gap analysis of their current refrigerant compliance program and the revised rules, update internal policy and procedure documents, and train internal personnel and contractors involved with the refrigerant compliance program on the specifics of the revised rule.
Risk Management Program Updated
On January 13, 2017, the final version of the Risk Management Program (RMP) Rule was published in the Federal Register (82 FR 4594). The revised rule effective date of March 14, 2017 was delayed by the new Administration until March 21, 2017, with the major changes in requirements becoming effective as summarized below. On January 20, 2017, the new Administration signed a memo instituting a regulatory freeze pending review. Because the RMP rule was published in the Federal Register, the initial effective date will be temporarily delayed to March 21,2017. Compliance dates in Table 1 are not affected.
Based on public comment, several notable changes were made from the proposed rule published on March 14, 2016 (81 FR 13637), as outlined below.
For additional details on Greenhouse Gas Reporting Rule, and New NSPS Electronic Reporting and Recordkeeping Requirments, please see the full article on our website. For questions regarding these wide-ranging rules or assistance with determining their applicability for your facilities, contact your local Trinity office at (800) 229-6655. You can also reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.