U.S. Signals It Means Business in Preventing HFC Black Market

Initial Enforcement Actions Announced by Interagency Task Force on Illegal HFC Trade

Washington DC—Today the U.S. EPA announced a series of initial enforcement actions taken in the first several months of implementing the phasedown of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) under the American Innovation and Manufacturing (AIM) Act. An Interagency Task Force on Illegal HFC Trade was established in September 2021 when EPA finalized its initial rule to implement the HFC Allowance Allocation and Trading Program. The initial limits requiring legal allowances for HFC production and imports under the program went into effect on January 1st of this year.

“In a testament to this administration’s seriousness about stopping illegal trade before it begins, the Task Force has prevented HFCs emissions equivalent to consuming 1.2 million barrels of oil within a mere ten weeks,” said Avipsa Mahapatra, EIA Climate Campaign Lead. “Learning from the European experience where illegal imports of HFCs are reported to be as high as 30% of the legal supply, deterring illegal trade in these super pollutants is a critical step in realizing U.S goals to address the climate crisis.”

This task force has identified and stopped shipments of HFCs without legal allowances adding up to 530,000 metric tons and also issued 14 notices of violation under the Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program (GHGRP), following the EPA Allowance Allocation and Trading Program going into effect at the beginning of this year. Allowances for new HFC production and consumption will be further reduced to 40% below baseline levels in 2024, and eventually phased down by 85% by 2036.

“In coming years the legal limits for HFC consumption will be further reduced, leading to even more incentive for illegal activity. It is vital for the U.S. to continue this focus on enforcement and deter this behavior through strict penalties for those found cheating,” said Christina Starr, EIA Senior Policy Analyst. “It also sends a signal for the rest of the world that strong enforcement is pivotal to achieving the climate benefits of the Kigali Amendment globally.”

EIA highlighted the need for modernized enforcement systems in a US EPA side event at COP 26 on multilateral cooperation and information sharing to prevent illegal trade. Last fall, along with Cynthia Giles, who served as the Assistant Administrator of EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance during the Obama Administration, EIA urged the EPA to Stop a New Black Market in Super Greenhouse Gases.