BALTIMORE (November 13, 2020) – The Maryland Department of the Environment has finalized regulations to phase out the use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) and reduce methane emissions to help meet the state’s aggressive climate and environmental goals for reducing greenhouse gases.
The regulations target HFCs in foam products, refrigeration, commercial air conditioning, and aerosol propellants, recognizing the availability of environmentally-preferable alternatives. MDE has also finalized regulations to reduce methane emissions from energy infrastructure and operations. These dual actions will help Maryland meet its requirements under the state’s Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Act, which was signed into law by Governor Hogan.
“These fast-acting super-pollutants, HFCs, are a major threat to our climate progress and deserve to be phased out at the state and federal level,” said Maryland Department of the Environment Secretary Ben Grumbles. “We’re using science, regulation, and market-based incentives for sustainable solutions that dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”
In moving to phase out HFCs, Maryland is acting in concert with commitments of the U. S. Climate Alliance to reduce climate-harming “super pollutants.” HFCs can be hundreds to thousands of times more potent than carbon dioxide in contributing to climate change per unit of mass.
The Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Act requires reductions of greenhouse gases in Maryland by 40% by 2030 – requirements that are among the most aggressive in the country and significantly more stringent than those in the Paris Climate Accord – while continuing to have a net positive effect on the economy and job creation. Maryland participates in the U.S. Climate Alliance and is a member of the multi-state Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI).
Traditionally, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulated the use of HFCs under a federal Clean Air Act program. However, after two HFC rules issued by the EPA stalled due to legal challenges, states began their own initiatives. MDE’s finalized regulations would reduce HFC emissions by adopting the stalled federal prohibitions for air conditioning and refrigeration equipment, aerosol propellants and foam uses.
The phase out of HFCs will encourage the use of widely available alternatives with lower emissions. Under the finalized regulations, HFC emissions are estimated to be reduced annually by 25% by 2030, representing a total reduction of 4.95 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent over 10 years.
Methane is a prevalent greenhouse gas emitted by human and natural activity. MDE’s finalized regulation establishes requirements to reduce vented and “fugitive” (or leaked) emissions of methane from both new and existing energy facilities.
The new regulations require detection, testing, repair, reporting and recordkeeping requirements for these facilities in the state. MDE estimates the finalized methane regulations will potentially prevent up to 5,000 metric tons of emissions per year through leak surveys, replacement of equipment, and components and inspections.
The HFC and methane regulations are effective in January 2021. For more information about the regulations, please visit mde.maryland.gov/programs/Regulations/air/Pages/reqcomments.aspx.