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D.C. Circuit Strikes Down Hydrofluorocarbon Ban

The United States District Court for the District of Columbia has ruled the Environmental Protection Agency does not have authority under the Clean Air Act to force companies that use hydrofluorocarbons (“HFCs”) in products like spray cans, automobile air conditioners and refrigerators to replace the HFCs with an EPA-approved alternative.  The EPA enacted the rule in 2015, responding to research showing HFCs contribute to climate change.  Mexichem Flour Inc. and Arkema Inc. challenged the rule’s legality.

The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals’ 2-1 decision acknowledged Section 612 of the Clean Air Act does require manufacturers to replace ozone-depleting substances with safe substitutes.  However, the Court wrote, “EPA’s authority to regulate ozone-depleting substances under Section 612 and other statutes does not give EPA authority to order the replacement of substances that are not ozone-depleting, but that contribute to climate change.” Since HFCs do not deplete ozone, the Court found EPA never had the power or authority to require the demanded action.