October ’23 at-a-glance … environment

EPA addresses HFC phase down, petition process and reporting requirements in final rule

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a pre-publication version of its final Technology Transition Rule restricting the use of HFCs in certain products and equipment. The final rule also establishes a process for submitting technology transitions petitions and establishes recordkeeping and reporting requirements. The compliance dates for the restrictions detailed in the final rule vary depending on the subsector and range from Jan. 1, 2025, to Jan. 1, 2028. EPA also provided a fact sheet on the final rule.

EPA proposes steps to mitigate, manage release of HFCs

EPA also issued a pre-publication proposed rule to minimize the release of HFCs leaking from equipment. If approved as proposed, the rule would require automatic leak detection systems for certain equipment, container tracking, and certain recordkeeping/reporting/labeling requirements, among other provisions. Comments are due 60 days after the proposed rule is published in the Federal Register. EPA also provided a fact sheet on the final rule.

EPA final rule requires companies to report on PFAS use; revises PFAS definition

EPA issued a final rule on required reporting and recordkeeping for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). Any organization that manufactures (including imports) or has manufactured (including imported) PFAS or PFAS-containing articles in any year since Jan. 1, 2011, must report information regarding PFAS uses, production volumes, disposal, exposures and hazards.

Refrigerants and foam blowing insulation often contain PFAS.

According to EPA’s estimates, compliance with the new rule will require a burden of approximately 11.6 million hours with a cost of approximately $843 million.

Also in the final rule referenced above, EPA issued a new definition of PFAS. They are defined as including at least one of these three structures:

  1. R-(CF2)-CF(R’)R’’, where both the CF2 and CF moieties are saturated carbons.
  2. R-CF2OCF2-R’, where R and R’ can either be F, O or saturated carbons.
  3. CF3C(CF3)R’R’’, where R’ and R’’ can either be F or saturated carbons.

EPA indicates that this new PFAS definition covers 1,462 substances, whereas the definition in the proposed rule covered 1,364 substances.

Health Canada recommends adding PFAS to the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA)

Canada’s Draft State of PFAS Report was produced by Health Canada to inform decision-making on PFAS in the country. Health Canada proposes that PFAS be treated as a class that constitute or may constitute a danger in Canada to human life or health. According to the report, “Owing to the extreme persistence of these substances, impacts on the environment are expected to increase if entry to the environment continues.” Viewing PFAS as a class would subject them to increased regulation under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA).

California Gov. Newsom approves mandatory reporting of GHG emissions disclosures

Governor Newsom approved California’s Climate Accountability Package. Considered one of the nation’s most broad reaching GHG emissions disclosure requirements, the two bills – SB-253 and SB-261– require public and private companies with revenues of more than $1B annually that operate in the state to report their direct and indirect emissions starting in 2026. This is another step in the state’s commitment to lower GHG emissions by 40% below what they were in 1990.