First-in-Nation California Program Praised for Addressing Pollution Worse than Carbon Dioxide

December 9, 2009

State Businesses Can Save Thousands of Dollars Annually by Reducing Refrigerant Pollution

SACRAMENTO, Calif., Dec. 9 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Environmental Defense Fund praised the California Air Resources Board (CARB) for adopting the nation’s first comprehensive regulation to reduce refrigerant pollution that is thousands of times more harmful than carbon dioxide. Once the refrigerant management program (RMP) is implemented fully, it can save state businesses more than $19 million and cut “super” greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution by 8 million metric tons (MMT), according to CARB.

“This first-in-the-nation program is a valuable, common-sense first step to cut refrigerant pollution that is thousands of times more harmful than carbon dioxide and can save businesses thousands of dollars,” said Tim O’Connor, an attorney in Environmental Defense Fund’s Sacramento office. “Absent this program, business-as-usual estimates indicate that high global warming potential pollution will triple between 2004 and 2020, harming the state’s ability to achieve the full economic and environmental benefits of our groundbreaking global warming law.”

The refrigerant management program is a key piece of the scoping plan for the Global Warming Solutions Act (AB 32), the framework showing how California will be able to reduce GHG pollution 30 percent below business as usual pollution by 2020. The program has the fifth most GHG pollution reductions assigned to it. By 2020, the regulation is expected to reduce GHG pollution by 8.1 MMT each year or nearly 5 percent of the required reductions by 2020. The build up of HFCs, if left unchecked, could negate efforts to reduce carbon dioxide to safe levels by 2050, according to a recent report by the National Academy of Sciences.

The program requires businesses that use hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) and other high global warming potential (high-GWP) refrigerants to monitor, repair, register and report on large, stationary refrigeration systems that leak. The savings for businesses — $2 per metric of carbon dioxide reduced — result from repairing systems that lose an average of 15 percent of their refrigerant gases. One pound of a common refrigerant — R-404a — costs about $11. A typical grocery store has a two-ton refrigerant cooling system that loses approximately $6,600 in coolants a year.

The program will cover commercial and industrial systems in approximately 26,000 facilities such as restaurants, grocery stores and cold storage warehouses. Large facilities are required to register in 2012, and medium and small system operators are required to register by 2014 and 2016 respectively.

“This program can put California at the forefront of a critical effort to make refrigeration systems less dangerous to people and the environment,” concluded O’Connor. “We look forward to helping to fine tune the program even further by exploring additional incentives and setting a single start date for all facilities.”

Environmental Defense Fund, a leading national nonprofit organization, represents more than 700,000 members. Since 1967, Environmental Defense Fund has linked science, economics, law and innovative private-sector partnerships to create breakthrough solutions to the most serious environmental problems. For more information, visit www.edf.org.

SOURCE Environmental Defense Fund

Source: newswire

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