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newsrel -- California rule clamps down on leaks of potent greenhouse gases from large refrigeration systems

Posted: 09 Dec 2009 10:53:48
California takes another step to reducing GHG emissions. 

Release 09-109
December 9, 2009
Stanley Young
cell 916-956-9409

California rule clamps down on leaks of potent greenhouse gases
from large refrigeration systems

Air Resources Board unanimously votes to adopt nation-leading

SACRAMENTO-The California Air Resources Board today adopted the
nation's first comprehensive regulation to reduce potent
greenhouse gases from commercial and industrial refrigeration

The rule will reduce greenhouse gas emissions of 8.1 million
metric tons of CO2e in 2020. That is equivalent to removing about
1.4 million cars from the road for a year.

"This common-sense measure will clamp down and reduce the
largest source of highly potent greenhouse gases," said ARB
Chairman Mary D. Nichols. "The rule creates a level playing field
by requiring that all businesses use best management practices to
monitor and repair refrigerant leaks."

Gases used as refrigerants trap heat in the atmosphere at rates
thousands of times that of carbon dioxide. A leak of only 1.5
pounds of the most commonly-used refrigerant (referred to as
R-22) is the equivalent of releasing a metric ton of carbon
dioxide (CO2e). The rule addresses the single largest source in
the state of high-potency greenhouse gases by requiring
refrigerant leak inspection and repair of large commercial and
industrial refrigeration systems.

The regulations apply only to large commercial and industrial
systems that use more than 50 pounds of refrigerant for a single
unit, roughly the equivalent of the refrigerant found in 100
household refrigerators. This means the rule applies primarily to
supermarkets, food and beverage processors, cold storage
warehouses, and industrial cooling processes. It does not apply
to most bars, restaurants, liquor stores, and office buildings.
The rule also does not apply to systems that use ammonia or
carbon dioxide as the refrigerant.

Development of the regulation took almost two years and included
five technical workgroup meetings, seven public workshops,
technician and service contractor surveys, and site visits. ARB
staff also worked with facility owners, refrigerant manufacturers
and several trade associations to develop the regulation.

Beginning in 2011, the rule will require leak inspection,
repairs, required service practices and record keeping. Leak
inspections will vary from continuous leak monitoring to
quarterly or annual leak inspections, depending on the type and
size of refrigeration systems.

Starting in 2012, registration, reporting and fee requirements
will be phased in for facilities in the following three

    * In 2012, about 2,000 facilities with large systems using
greater than 2,000 pounds of refrigerant register, report and pay
an annual fee of $370.
    * In 2014, about 8,500 facilities with medium systems using
between 200 and 2,000 pounds of refrigerant register, report and
pay an annual fee of $170 .
    * In 2016, about 15,500 facilities with small systems using
greater than 50, but less than 200 pounds of refrigerant submit a
one-time registration with no annual fee or reporting. 

Fees collected will be used to support outreach, training,
enforcement and administration while working closely with our
local air districts.

Though costs will vary from facility-to-facility, the leak
detection, monitoring and repair requirements of the rule are
expected to produce an average savings of roughly two dollars a
metric ton for each ton of the equivalent of CO2 reduced. That is
because identifying and repairing leaks promptly reduces the need
to buy costly refrigerant to refill the system.

The rule is part of a range of measures being developed by ARB
under AB 32, the state's pioneering climate change law signed by
Governor Schwarzenegger in 2006.

In 2008 California adopted a comprehensive roadmap, known as the
Scoping Plan to achieve AB 32's goal of reducing greenhouse gas
emissions 30 percent by 2020. Only two other scoping plan
measures adopted to date exceed the refrigerant rule's expected
greenhouse gas reductions: The Pavley vehicle emissions standards
(31.7 million metric tons of CO2e) and the Low Carbon Fuel
Standard (15 million metric tons of CO2e).

The Air Resources Board is a department of the California
Environmental Protection Agency. ARB's mission is to promote and
protect public health, welfare, and ecological resources through
effective reduction of air pollutants while recognizing and
considering effects on the economy. The ARB oversees all air
pollution control efforts in California to attain and maintain
health based air quality standards.


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