Feeling the Chill: EPA Ban on Common Coolants Has Lawmakers, Industry Worried

Lawmakers and industry groups are worried fast-approaching Environmental Protection Agency rules banning certain gases used in commercial refrigeration and air conditioners could have a chilling effect on business.

The EPA is looking to impose the new rules starting in January 2016, restricting refrigeration coolants commonly found in grocery stores, restaurants and cars — not only in fridges and air conditioners but also vending machines and insulation.

Critics, though, complain the proposed rules would force commercial refrigeration to shift from what’s known as hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) to alternative coolants — only a few years after they were told HFCs were the best alternative to ozone-depleting gasses.

And they’re worried about the tight timetable, calling the January 2016 deadline “arbitrary and capricious.”

“That [deadline] puts everyone in a difficult position, with manufacturers not knowing how to spend their resources and dollars,” said Stephen Yurek, president and CEO of the Air Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Institute.

“We just can’t go to our members and tell them not to worry about it.”