Press Release: 2020-10-16

Baker-Polito Administration Announces Rule Prohibiting Use of HFC Pollutants

Baker-Polito Administration Announces Rule Prohibiting Use of HFC Pollutants

BOSTON — The Baker-Polito Administration today 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,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “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.”

“Phasing out HFCs is an important step towards meeting our commitment to achieve net zero emissions by 2050,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. “As more environmentally friendly alternatives to products containing HFCs are now available, this prohibition protects residents and the environment while providing an opportunity for businesses across Massachusetts.”

HFCs are greenhouse gasses with a global warming potential that is tens to thousands of times more potent than carbon dioxide (CO2), 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 (MassDEP) 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 January 1, 2021 and the last prohibitions taking effect on January 1, 2024. The dates of prohibition are based on U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) analysis of available product alternatives.

The public comment period on the draft regulation will be open through November 3, 2020. A virtual public meeting will be held on October 23.

“By acting regionally, we can make a much larger impact on climate change than by acting alone,” said Energy and Environmental Secretary Kathleen Theoharides. “This rule is our latest multi-state climate effort and reinforces the importance of such action, including the Administrations leadership among Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states as part of the Transportation and Climate Initiative.”

“This rule was developed with input from a wide variety of stakeholders,” said Martin Suuberg, MassDEP Commissioner. “We look forward to receiving comment and finalizing this important regulation.”

MassDEP sought public input on proposing such a regulation through two public meetings held on November 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 (CFCs) as a refrigerant. For more information on HFCs and their impact on climate change, see here.