[Federal Register Volume 83, Number 190 (Monday, October 1, 2018)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 49332-49344]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2018-21084]


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ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY

40 CFR Part 82

[EPA-HQ-OAR-2017-0629; FRL-9984-55-OAR]
RIN 2060-AT81


Protection of Stratospheric Ozone: Revisions to the Refrigerant 
Management Program's Extension to Substitutes

AGENCY: Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

ACTION: Proposed rule.

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SUMMARY: The Clean Air Act (CAA) prohibits knowingly venting or 
releasing ozone-depleting and substitute refrigerants in the course of 
maintaining, servicing, repairing, or disposing of appliances or 
industrial process refrigeration. On November 18, 2016, EPA finalized a 
rule that updated the existing refrigerant management requirements and 
extended requirements that previously applied only to refrigerants 
containing an ozone-depleting substance (ODS) to substitute 
refrigerants such as hydrofluorocarbons that are subject to the venting 
prohibition (i.e., those that have not been exempted from that 
prohibition). The Agency is revisiting the aspects of the 2016 Rule 
that apply to equipment containing such substitute refrigerants. This 
action proposes changes to the legal interpretation that supported that 
rule and amendments to the regulations based on the revised 
interpretation. More specifically, in connection with the proposed 
changes to the legal interpretation, EPA is proposing to revise the 
appliance maintenance and leak repair provisions so they apply only to 
equipment using refrigerant containing a class I or class II substance. 
Based on this proposed limitation of the leak repair requirements, this 
document further proposes to revise the list of practices that must be 
followed in order for refrigerant releases to be considered de minimis 
to clarify that the reference to following leak repair practices only 
applies to equipment that contains ODS refrigerant. EPA is also taking 
comment on whether, in connection with the proposed changes to the 
legal interpretation, the 2016 Rule's extension of subpart F 
refrigerant management requirements to such substitute refrigerants 
should be rescinded in full. Additionally, EPA is proposing to extend 
by six to twelve months the January 1, 2019 compliance date for when 
appliances containing only substitute refrigerants subject to the 
venting prohibition must comply with the appliance maintenance and leak 
repair provisions.

DATES: Written comments must be received by November 15, 2018. EPA will 
hold a public hearing on or before October 16, 2018. The hearing will 
be held in Washington, DC. More details concerning the hearing can be 
found at www.epa.gov/section608.

ADDRESSES: Submit your comments, identified by Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-
OAR-2017-0629, at www.regulations.gov. Follow the online instructions 
for submitting comments. Once submitted, comments cannot be edited or 
removed from Regulations.gov. EPA may publish any comment received to 
its public docket. Do not submit electronically any information you 
consider to be Confidential Business Information (CBI) or other 
information whose disclosure is restricted by statute. Multimedia 
submissions (audio, video, etc.) must be accompanied by a written 
comment. The written comment is considered the official comment and 
should include discussion of all points you wish to make. EPA will 
generally not consider comments or comment contents located outside of 
the primary submission (e.g., on the web, cloud, or other file sharing 
system). For additional submission methods, the full EPA public comment 
policy, information about CBI or multimedia submissions, and general 
guidance on making effective comments, please visit www.epa.gov/dockets/commenting-epa-dockets.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Jeremy Arling by regular mail: U.S. 
Environmental Protection Agency, Stratospheric Protection Division 
(6205T), 1200 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20460; by 
telephone: (202) 343-9055; or by email: arling.jeremy@epa.gov.

I. General Information

A. What is the National Recycling and Emission Reduction Program?

    Section 608 of the CAA, titled ``National Recycling and Emissions 
Reduction Program,'' has three main components. First, section 608(a) 
requires EPA to establish standards and requirements regarding the use 
and disposal of class I and class II substances.\1\ The second 
component, section 608(b), requires that the regulations issued 
pursuant to subsection (a) contain requirements for the safe disposal 
of class I and class II substances. The third component, section 
608(c), prohibits the knowing venting, release, or disposal of ODS 
refrigerants \2\ and their substitutes \3\ in the course of 
maintaining, servicing, repairing, or disposing of appliances or 
industrial process refrigeration (IPR). This third component is also 
referred to as the ``venting prohibition'' in this proposal. Section 
608(c)(1) includes an exemption from this prohibition for ``[d]e 
minimis releases associated with good faith attempts to recapture and 
recycle or safely dispose'' of class I or class II substances, and 
section 608(c)(2) extends 608(c)(1) to substitute refrigerants. Section 
608(c)(2) also includes a provision that allows the Administrator to 
exempt a substitute refrigerant from the venting prohibition if he or 
she determines that such venting, release, or disposal of a substitute 
refrigerant ``does not pose a threat to the environment.'' \4\
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    \1\ A class I or class II substance refers to an ozone-depleting 
substance listed at 40 CFR part 82 subpart A, appendix A or appendix 
B, respectively. This proposal refers to class I and class II 
substances collectively as ozone-depleting substances, or ODS.
    \2\ The term ``ODS refrigerant'' as used in this proposal refers 
to any refrigerant or refrigerant blend in which one or more of the 
components is a class I or class II substance.
    \3\ The term ``substitute'' is defined at 40 CFR 82.152. In the 
context of the subpart F regulations, any refrigerant or refrigerant 
blend in which none of the components is a class I or class II 
substance is treated as a substitute, while any refrigerant or 
refrigerant blend in which one or more the components is a class I 
or class II substance is regulated as an ODS refrigerant.
    \4\ EPA is using the term ``non-exempt substitute'' in this 
document to refer to substitute refrigerants that have not been 
exempted from the venting prohibition under CAA section 608(c)(2) 
and 40 CFR 82.154(a) in the relevant end-use. Similarly, the term 
``exempt substitute'' refers to a substitute refrigerant that has 
been exempted from the venting prohibition under section 608(c)(2) 
and Sec.  82.154(a) in the relevant end-use. A few exempt 
substitutes have been exempted from the venting prohibition in all 
end-uses.
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    EPA first issued regulations under section 608 of the CAA on May 
14, 1993 (58 FR 28660, ``1993 Rule''), to establish the national 
refrigerant management program for ODS refrigerants recovered during 
the service, repair, or disposal of air-conditioning and refrigeration 
appliances. These regulations were intended to substantially reduce the 
use and emissions of refrigerants that are ODS.

[[Page 49333]]

    The 1993 Rule required that persons servicing air-conditioning and 
refrigeration equipment containing ODS refrigerants observe certain 
practices that reduce emissions. It established requirements for 
refrigerant recovery equipment, reclaimer certification, and technician 
certification, and also restricted the sale of ODS refrigerant so that 
only certified technicians could purchase it. In addition, the 1993 
Rule required that ODS be removed from appliances prior to disposal, 
and that all air-conditioning and refrigeration equipment using an ODS 
be provided with a servicing aperture or process stub to facilitate 
refrigerant recovery. The 1993 Rule also established a requirement to 
repair leaking appliances containing more than 50 pounds of ODS 
refrigerant. The rule set an annual leak rate of 35 percent for 
commercial refrigeration appliances and IPR and 15 percent for comfort 
cooling appliances. If the applicable leak rate is exceeded, the 
appliance must be repaired within 30 days. Further, consistent with CAA 
section 608(c)(1), the 1993 Rule included a regulatory provision 
prohibiting the knowing venting or release of ODS refrigerant by any 
person maintaining, servicing, repairing, or disposing of an appliance. 
58 FR 28714; 40 CFR 82.154(a) (1993). It also provided that such 
releases would be considered de minimis, and therefore not subject to 
the prohibition, if they occurred when certain regulatory requirements 
were followed. 40 CFR 82.154(a) (1993).
    EPA revised these regulations, which are found at 40 CFR part 82, 
subpart F (``subpart F''), through subsequent rulemakings published on 
August 19, 1994 (59 FR 42950), November 9, 1994 (59 FR 55912), August 
8, 1995 (60 FR 40420), July 24, 2003 (68 FR 43786), March 12, 2004 (69 
FR 11946), January 11, 2005 (70 FR 1972), April 13, 2005 (70 FR 19273), 
May 23, 2014 (79 FR 29682), April 10, 2015 (80 FR 19453), and November 
18, 2016 (81 FR 82272). In the April 2005 rulemaking, EPA revised the 
regulatory venting prohibition in 40 CFR 82.154, so that it also 
applied to non-exempt substitute refrigerants, and included such 
substitutes in the regulatory provision implementing the de minimis 
exemption, so that it exempted ``de minimis releases associated with 
good faith attempts to recycle or recover refrigerants or non-exempt 
substitutes'' from the prohibition. 70 FR 19278. However, in contrast 
to how these regulations applied to ODS refrigerants, they did not 
provide that releases of non-exempt substitute refrigerants would be 
considered de minimis if certain regulatory requirements were followed. 
Additionally, the 2004 and 2005 rules exempted certain substitute 
refrigerants from the venting prohibition either in specific end uses 
or in all end uses. See 69 FR 11953-11954; 70 FR 19278; 40 CFR 
82.154(a) (June 2005). This regulatory list of exemptions from the 
venting prohibition in 40 CFR 82.154(a) has been periodically updated 
since 2005. EPA also issued proposed rules to revise the regulations in 
subpart F on June 11, 1998 (63 FR 32044), elements of which were not 
finalized, and on December 15, 2010 (75 FR 78558), for which no 
elements were finalized. A more detailed history of these regulatory 
updates can be found at 81 FR 82275. Prior to the 2016 Rule, EPA 
regulations did not address how regulated entities could avail 
themselves of the de minimis exemption for non-exempt substitutes. See, 
e.g., 81 FR 82283-82285.
    On November 18, 2016, EPA published a rule updating the refrigerant 
management requirements and extending requirements that previously 
applied only to refrigerants containing an ODS to non-exempt substitute 
refrigerants, such as hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) and hydrofluorolefins 
(HFOs) (81 FR 82272) (``2016 Rule''). The 2016 Rule also made a number 
of revisions to improve the efficacy of the refrigerant management 
program as a whole, such as revisions of regulatory provisions for 
increased clarity and readability, and removal of provisions that had 
become obsolete.

B. Does this action apply to me?

    Categories and entities potentially affected by this action include 
those who own, operate, maintain, service, repair, recycle, reclaim, or 
dispose of refrigeration and air-conditioning appliances and 
refrigerants, as well as entities that manufacture or sell 
refrigerants, products, and services for the refrigeration and air-
conditioning industry. Potentially affected entities include, but are 
not limited to, the following:

                                     Table 1--Potentially Affected Entities
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                                            North American Industry
               Category                  Classification System (NAICS)       Examples of regulated entities
                                                     code
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Industrial Process Refrigeration (IPR)  111, 11251, 11511, 21111,       Owners or operators of refrigeration
                                         2211, 2212, 2213, 311, 3121,    equipment used in agriculture and crop
                                         3221, 3222, 32311, 32411,       production, oil and gas extraction, ice
                                         3251, 32512, 3252, 3253,        rinks, and the manufacture of frozen
                                         32541, 3256, 3259, 3261,        food, dairy products, food and
                                         3262, 3324, 3328, 33324,        beverages, ice, petrochemicals,
                                         33341, 33361, 3341, 3344,       chemicals, machinery, medical
                                         3345, 3346, 3364, 33911,        equipment, plastics, paper, and
                                         339999.                         electronics.
Commercial Refrigeration..............  42374, 42393, 42399, 4242,      Owners or operators of refrigerated
                                         4244, 42459, 42469, 42481,      warehousing and storage facilities,
                                         42493, 4451, 4452, 45291,       supermarkets, grocery stores, warehouse
                                         48422, 4885, 4931, 49312,       clubs, supercenters, convenience
                                         72231.                          stores, and refrigerated transport.
Comfort Cooling.......................  45211, 45299, 453998, 512,      Owners or operators of air-conditioning
                                         522, 524, 531, 5417, 551,       equipment used in the following:
                                         561, 6111, 6112, 6113, 61151,   hospitals, office buildings, colleges
                                         622, 7121, 71394, 721, 722,     and universities, metropolitan transit
                                         813, 92.                        authorities, real estate rental &
                                                                         leased properties, lodging and food
                                                                         services, property management, schools,
                                                                         and public administration or other
                                                                         public institutions.
Plumbing, Heating, and Air-             238220, 811111, 81131, 811412.  Plumbing, heating, and air-conditioning
 Conditioning Contractors.                                               contractors, and refrigerant recovery
                                                                         contractors, including automotive
                                                                         repair.
Manufacturers and Distributors of       325120, 441310, 447110........  Automotive parts and accessories stores
 Small Cans of Refrigerant.                                              and industrial gas manufacturers.
Reclaimers............................  325120, 423930, 424690,         Industrial gas manufacturers, recyclable
                                         562920, 562212.                 material merchant wholesalers,
                                                                         materials recovery facilities, solid
                                                                         waste landfills, and other chemical and
                                                                         allied products merchant wholesalers.

[[Page 49334]]

 
Disposers and Recyclers of Appliances.  423990, 562212, 562920........  Materials recovery facilities, solid
                                                                         waste landfills, and other
                                                                         miscellaneous durable goods merchant
                                                                         wholesalers.
Refrigerant Wholesalers...............  325120, 42, 424690............  Industrial gas manufacturers, other
                                                                         chemical and allied products merchant
                                                                         wholesalers, wholesale trade.
Certifying Organizations..............  541380........................  Environmental test laboratories and
                                                                         services.
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    This list is not intended to be exhaustive, but rather to provide a 
guide for readers regarding entities likely to be affected by this 
action. To determine whether your facility, company, business, or 
organization could be affected by this action, you should carefully 
examine the regulations at 40 CFR part 82, subpart F and the proposed 
revisions below. If you have questions regarding the applicability of 
this action, if finalized, to a particular entity, consult the person 
listed in the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section.

C. What action is the agency taking?

    Subpart F contains a comprehensive set of specific refrigerant 
management requirements, including provisions that: Restrict the 
servicing of appliances and the sale of refrigerant to certified 
technicians; specify the proper evacuation levels before opening an 
appliance; require the use of certified refrigerant recovery and/or 
recycling equipment; require the maintenance and repair of appliances 
that meet size and leak rate thresholds; require that refrigerant be 
removed from appliances prior to disposal; require that appliances have 
a servicing aperture or process stub to facilitate refrigerant 
recovery; require that refrigerant reclaimers be certified to reclaim 
and sell used refrigerant; and establish standards for technician 
certification programs, recovery equipment, and quality of reclaimed 
refrigerant (40 CFR part 82 subpart F).
    Based on feedback from some in the regulated community, the Agency 
reviewed the 2016 Rule, focusing in particular on whether the Agency 
had the statutory authority to extend the full set of subpart F 
refrigerant management regulations to non-exempt substitute 
refrigerants, such as HFCs and HFOs. Based on that review, 
Administrator Pruitt signed a letter on August 10, 2017 stating that 
EPA is ``planning to issue a proposed rule to revisit aspects of the 
2016 Rule's extension of the 40 CFR part 82 subpart F refrigerant 
management requirements to non-exempt substitutes.'' \5\ Consistent 
with the Administrator's letter, the Agency is now proposing to 
withdraw the recent extension of the appliance maintenance and leak 
repair provisions at 40 CFR 82.157 \6\ to appliances using only non-
exempt substitute refrigerants.\7\ This proposal would relieve 
businesses from having to conduct leak inspections, repair leaks, and 
keep records for appliances containing 50 or more pounds of non-exempt 
substitute refrigerant. EPA is also taking comment on whether to 
withdraw the extension of the full set of subpart F provisions to non-
exempt substitute refrigerants. EPA is not proposing any changes to the 
refrigerant management program as it relates to requirements for ozone-
depleting refrigerants or appliances containing or using any amount of 
ODS. Accordingly, none of the proposed changes would affect 
requirements for ODS under CAA section 608.
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    \5\ Letter from EPA to National Environmental Development 
Association's Clean Air Project and the Air Permitting Forum (Aug. 
10, 2017), available at www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2017-08/documents/608_update_letter.pdf and in the docket to this rule.
    \6\ For ease of reference, in this document EPA uses the terms 
``leak repair provisions'' or ``leak repair requirements'' to refer 
to the appliance maintenance and leak repair provisions at 40 CFR 
82.157.
    \7\ Ozone-depleting refrigerants and appliances that contain or 
use any amount of class I or class II ODS would continue to be 
subject to the ODS requirements.
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D. What is the agency's authority for taking this action?

    These proposed revisions to the regulations found at 40 CFR part 
82, subpart F are based on proposed changes to EPA's interpretation of 
its authority under CAA section 608. In particular, in the 2016 Rule 
EPA had for the first time adopted an interpretation of CAA section 608 
to support the extension of the full set of subpart F refrigerant 
management requirements to non-exempt substitute refrigerants. Under 
the interpretation proposed in this document, EPA now proposes to 
conclude that its authority to regulate substitutes under section 608 
does not extend as far as its authority to regulate ODS. Specifically, 
EPA would conclude, as a legal matter, that the extension of the full 
set (that is, the entirety) of subpart F requirements to non-exempt 
substitute refrigerants exceeds EPA's statutory authority. In 
connection with the proposed changes in its legal interpretation, EPA 
is proposing to rescind the 2016 Rule's extension of the leak repair 
requirements to non-exempt substitutes, while retaining the extension 
of the remaining subpart F requirements. In light of the questions 
regarding the scope of EPA's authority to regulate non-exempt 
substitute refrigerants under section 608, EPA is also taking comment 
on whether it would be appropriate and warranted for the agency to 
instead rescind the entire extension of the subpart F requirements to 
non-exempt substitutes at this time. EPA is not, however, proposing to 
change the interpretation that EPA has authority to interpret the 
venting prohibition and the de minimis exemption in section 608(c) and 
to explain how that prohibition and that exemption apply to non-exempt 
substitute refrigerants.\8\
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    \8\ Section 608(c) does not expressly provide that EPA may write 
regulations under that section. Section 301, however, states that 
the ``Administrator is authorized to prescribe such regulations as 
are necessary to carry out his functions under [the Clean Air 
Act].''
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    EPA's authority for this proposed action is further supported by 
the Agency's authority to revisit and revise existing regulations and 
legal interpretations. More detail on EPA's authority for this action 
is provided in subsequent sections of this document, including in 
sections II.D and II.E below, discussing EPA's authority under CAA 
sections 608(c) and 608(a), respectively.

E. What are the incremental costs and benefits of this action?

    By rescinding the extension of the leak repair provisions to 
substitutes, the proposed rule would reduce the burden associated with 
the 2016 Rule by $39 million per year. EPA also estimates this rule 
would increase the need to purchase non-exempt substitute refrigerant 
for leaking appliances, at an overall cost of approximately $15 million 
per year. Thus, incremental compliance savings and increased 
refrigerant costs combined are estimated to be a reduction of at least 
$24 million

[[Page 49335]]

per year. EPA estimates that this proposed action would result in 
foregone annual greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reductions benefits of 
at least 3 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent 
(MMTCO2e). This proposed rule to rescind the extension of 
the leak repair provisions to substitutes would not directly affect the 
stratospheric ozone layer.
    EPA is also taking comment whether the agency should rescind the 
entire extension of the subpart F requirements to non-exempt 
substitutes and any additional cost savings associated with that 
action. This would reduce the burden associated with the 2016 Rule by 
at least an additional $4 million per year (for a total annual burden 
reduction of at least $43 million per year). EPA estimates withdrawing 
subpart F regulations of non-exempt substitute refrigerants to result 
in additional foregone annual GHG emissions reductions of 0.7 
MMTCO2e associated with the use of self-sealing valves for a 
total foregone emissions reduction of at least 3.6 MMTCO2e.
    Table 2 presents a summary of the annual costs and benefits 
associated with two scenarios including rescinding the extension of the 
leak repair provisions to non-exempt substitutes and rescinding the 
extension of all Subpart F provisions to non-exempt substitutes.

                   Table 2--Summary of Annual Costs and Benefits With 7% and 3% Discount Rates
                                                     [2014$]
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                                 Rescinding extension of leak         Rescinding extension of all Subpart F
                                repair provisions to non-exempt        provisions to non-exempt substitutes
                                          substitutes           ------------------------------------------------
                              ----------------------------------
                                 7% Discount      3% Discount      7% Discount           3% Discount rate
                                     rate             rate             rate
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Burden Reduction.............  $38,958,000....  $35,264,000....  $43,014,000....  $39,320,000
Refrigerant Replacement Cost.  -$14,874,000...  -$14,874,000...  -$14,874,000...  -$14,874,000
Forgone Emissions Reductions.  2.946 MMTCO2e..  2.946 MMTCO2e..  3.603 MMTCO2e..  3.603 MMTCO2e
Annual Cost Savings..........  $24,084,000....  $20,390,000....  $28,140,000....  $24,446,000
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    Additional information on these analyses can be found in Section 
III of this document and the technical support document in the docket.

II. The Proposed Rule

A. History of the Extension of the Subpart F Requirements to Non-Exempt 
Substitutes

    On November 18, 2016, EPA published a rule updating existing 
refrigerant management requirements and extending the full set of the 
subpart F refrigerant management requirements, which prior to that rule 
applied only to ODS refrigerants,\9\ to non-exempt substitute 
refrigerants, such as HFCs and HFOs (81 FR 82272). As such, as part of 
the 2016 Rule, EPA extended the ``appliance maintenance and leak 
repair'' provisions, currently codified at 40 CFR 82.157, to appliances 
that contain 50 or more pounds of non-exempt substitute refrigerant. 
Included in the leak repair provisions are requirements to conduct leak 
rate calculations when refrigerant is added to an appliance, repair an 
appliance that leaks above the threshold leak rate applicable to that 
type of appliance, conduct verification tests on repairs, conduct 
periodic leak inspections on appliances that have exceeded the 
threshold leak rate, report to EPA on chronically leaking appliances, 
retrofit or retire appliances that are not repaired, and maintain 
related documentation to verify compliance. Although the 2016 Rule took 
effect on January 1, 2017, it included later compliance dates for some 
of the revised regulations, including the leak repair provisions. Under 
the 2016 Rule, owners and operators of appliances that contain 50 or 
more pounds of refrigerant must comply with these revised appliance 
maintenance and leak repair provisions beginning January 1, 2019.
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    \9\ The only subpart F requirements that applied to substitute 
refrigerants prior to the 2016 Rule were the venting prohibition and 
certain exemptions from that, as set forth in Sec.  82.154(a).
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    Two industry coalitions, National Environmental Development 
Association's Clean Air Project (NEDA/CAP) and the Air Permitting Forum 
(APF), filed petitions for judicial review of the 2016 Rule in the U.S. 
Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, and the cases 
have been consolidated. See NEDA/CAP v. EPA, No. 17-1016 (D.C. Cir. 
filed January 17, 2017); APF v. EPA, No. 17-1017 (D.C. Cir. filed 
January 17, 2017). The Chemours Company, Honeywell International Inc., 
the Natural Resources Defense Council, and the Alliance for Responsible 
Atmospheric Policy are participating as intervenor-respondents in that 
litigation, in support of the 2016 Rule. In addition, APF has filed a 
petition with EPA for administrative reconsideration of the 2016 Rule. 
The petition for reconsideration is available in the docket for this 
action and raises several issues regarding changes made in the 2016 
Rule, including EPA's statutory authority for its decision in the 2016 
Rule to expand the scope of the refrigerant management requirements--
including, but not limited to, leak repair requirements--to cover non-
exempt substitute refrigerants. Honeywell International Inc. submitted 
a document styled as a response to APF's petition for reconsideration, 
which is also available in the docket for this action.

B. Legal Background

    The discussion of EPA's statutory authority to extend refrigerant 
management requirements to non-exempt substitute refrigerants in the 
2016 Rule focused primarily on CAA section 608, especially on sections 
608(c) and 608(a). See generally 81 FR 82284-82288.
    Section 608(a) requires EPA to establish standards and requirements 
regarding use and disposal of class I and class II substances. With 
regard to refrigerants, EPA is to promulgate regulations establishing 
standards and requirements for the use and disposal of class I and 
class II substances during the service, repair, or disposal of air-
conditioning and refrigeration appliances or IPR. Regulations under 
section 608(a) are to include requirements to reduce the use and 
emission of ODS to the lowest achievable level, and to maximize the 
recapture and recycling of such substances. Section 608(a) further 
provides that ``[s]uch regulations may include requirements to use 
alternative substances (including substances which are not class I or 
class II substances) or to minimize use of class I or class II 
substances, or to promote the use of safe

[[Page 49336]]

alternatives pursuant to section [612] or any combination of the 
foregoing.''
    Section 608(c) establishes a self-effectuating prohibition, 
commonly called the ``venting prohibition.'' \10\ Section 608(c)(1), 
effective July 1, 1992, makes it unlawful for any person in the course 
of maintaining, servicing, repairing, or disposing of an appliance or 
IPR to knowingly vent, release, or dispose of any ODS used as a 
refrigerant in such equipment in a manner that permits that substance 
to enter the environment. Section 608(c)(1) also includes an exemption 
from this prohibition for ``[d]e minimis releases associated with good 
faith attempts to recapture and recycle or safely dispose'' of such a 
substance. Section 608(c)(2) states that, effective November 15, 1995, 
``paragraph (1) shall also apply to the venting, release, or disposal 
of any substitute substance for a class I or class II substance by any 
person maintaining, servicing, repairing, or disposing of an appliance 
or [IPR] which contains and uses as a refrigerant any such substance, 
unless the Administrator determines that venting, releasing, or 
disposing of such substance does not pose a threat to the 
environment.'' EPA interprets section 608(c)(2)'s extension of section 
608(c)(1) to substitute refrigerants to extend both the prohibition on 
venting and the de minimis exemption to non-exempt substitute 
refrigerants. This is a long-held position and EPA is not proposing to 
revisit it. See, e.g., 69 FR 11949 (March 12, 2004); 70 FR 19274-19275 
(April 13, 2005).
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    \10\ In this context, EPA uses the term ``self-effectuating'' to 
mean that the statutory prohibition on venting is itself legally 
binding even in the absence of implementing regulations.
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    In the 2016 Rule, EPA interpreted section 608 of the CAA as being 
ambiguous with regard to EPA's authority to establish refrigerant 
management regulations for non-exempt substitute refrigerants because 
Congress had not precisely spoken to this issue. Accordingly, EPA took 
the view that it had the discretion under Chevron, U.S.A., Inc. v. 
Natural Res. Def. Council, Inc., 467 U.S. 837, 843-44 (1984), to 
interpret section 608 as providing EPA with authority to extend all 
aspects of its refrigerant management regulations under section 608 to 
non-exempt substitute refrigerants, including those regulations that 
had previously only applied to ODS refrigerants. See 81 FR 82283. The 
2016 Rule explained that EPA had established the subpart F standards 
for the proper handling of ODS refrigerants during service, repair, or 
disposal of an appliance to maximize the recovery and/or recycling of 
such substances and reduce the use and emission of such substances 
primarily under section 608(a). Section 608(a) expressly requires EPA 
to issue regulations that apply to class I and class II substances, but 
does not expressly address whether EPA could establish the same 
refrigerant management practices for substitute substances. On the 
other hand, section 608(c)(2) explicitly mentions substitute 
refrigerants and directly applies the provisions for ODS refrigerants 
in section 608(c)(1) to them.
    In the 2016 Rule EPA grounded its authority for the extension of 
refrigerant requirements to non-exempt substitute refrigerants largely 
on section 608(c), which EPA interpreted to provide it authority to 
promulgate regulations that interpret, explain, and enforce the venting 
prohibition and the de minimis exemption as they apply to non-exempt 
substitute refrigerants. See 81 FR 82283-82284. In reaching this 
interpretation, EPA relied in part on a policy rationale that by 
establishing a comprehensive and consistent framework that applies to 
both ODS and non-exempt substitute refrigerants, the 2016 Rule would 
provide clarity to the regulated community concerning the measures that 
should be taken to comply with the venting prohibition for non-exempt 
substitutes and would thus reduce confusion and enhance compliance for 
both ODS and non-exempt substitutes. EPA further explained its view in 
the 2016 Rule that the extension of requirements under section 608 to 
non-exempt substitutes was also supported by section 608(a) because 
having a consistent regulatory framework for non-exempt substitutes and 
ODS is expected to reduce emissions of ODS refrigerants, as well as 
non-exempt substitutes. In addition, EPA located supplemental authority 
for the 2016 Rule in section 301(a), which provides authority for EPA 
to ``prescribe such regulations as are necessary to carry out [the EPA 
Administrator's] functions'' under the Act. Id. Further, EPA located 
supplemental authority to extend the recordkeeping and reporting 
requirements to non-exempt substitutes in section 114, which provides 
authority to the EPA Administrator to require recordkeeping and 
reporting in carrying out provisions of the CAA. Id.

C. EPA's Authority To Revisit Existing Regulations and Interpretations

    EPA's ability to revisit existing regulations is well-grounded in 
the law. Specifically, EPA has inherent authority to reconsider, 
repeal, or revise past decisions to the extent permitted by law so long 
as the Agency provides a reasoned explanation. The CAA complements 
EPA's inherent authority to reconsider prior rulemakings by providing 
the Agency with broad authority to prescribe regulations as necessary 
in CAA section 301(a). The authority to reconsider prior decisions 
exists in part because EPA's interpretations of statutes it administers 
``[are not] instantly carved in stone,'' but must be evaluated ``on a 
continuing basis.'' Chevron U.S.A. Inc. v. NRDC, Inc., 467 U.S. 837, 
863-64 (1984). This is true when, as is the case here, review is 
undertaken ``in response to . . . a change in administrations.'' 
National Cable & Telecommunications Ass'n v. Brand X internet Services, 
545 U.S. 967, 981 (2005). Indeed, ``[a]gencies obviously have broad 
discretion to reconsider a regulation at any time.'' Clean Air Council 
v. Pruitt, 862 F.3d 1, 8-9 (D.C. Cir. 2017). Similarly, the fact that 
an agency has previously adopted one interpretation of a statute does 
not preclude it from later exercising its discretion to change its 
interpretation. National Cable & Telecommunications Ass'n, 545 U.S. at 
981.
    In accordance with the Administrator's statement in the August 10, 
2017 letter that EPA planned to issue a proposed rule to revisit 
aspects of the 2016 Rule's extension of the subpart F refrigerant 
management requirements to non-exempt substitutes, EPA has reassessed 
its decision to extend those requirements to non-exempt substitutes and 
the interpretations supporting that extension. The main considerations 
leading to the Agency's decision to reassess the 2016 Rule's extension 
of subpart F requirements to non-exempt substitute refrigerants are 
questions about whether extending the full set of subpart F 
requirements exceeded EPA's statutory authority under CAA section 608. 
The subpart F requirements, including the leak repair requirements, 
were originally established for ODS based primarily on authority under 
CAA section 608(a). Sections 608(a)(1) and (2) explicitly require EPA 
to regulate ODS but make no mention of substitutes. Section 608(c)(2) 
does expressly mention substitute refrigerants. However, that provision 
focuses on prohibiting knowing releases of substitute refrigerants in 
the course of maintenance, service, repair, and disposal activities and 
on providing an exemption for de minimis releases.
    Thus, the structure of section 608, specifically the inclusion of 
the term ``substitutes'' in section 608(c) but not section 608(a), 
contrasted with the express references to ODS (class I and class II 
substances) in both subsections,

[[Page 49337]]

suggests that EPA's authority to address substitutes under section 608 
is more limited than its authority to address ODS. If Congress had 
intended to convey authority to EPA to promulgate the same, full set of 
refrigerant management requirements for substitutes as for ODS, it is 
reasonable to expect that Congress would have expressly included 
substitutes in section 608(a), as it did for section 608(c)--but it did 
not. On the other hand, section 608(a) requires the Agency to issue 
regulations that reduce the use and emission of ODS to the lowest 
achievable level and maximize the recapture and recycling of such 
substances. While section 608(a) contains discretionary language about 
what requirements those regulations may include, it does not contain 
any more specific mandates about how the required objectives should be 
achieved. To the extent that the extension of certain subpart F 
requirements to non-exempt substitutes is necessary to reduce the use 
and emission of ODS to the lowest achievable level or to maximize the 
recapture and recycling of such substances, EPA is proposing to 
conclude, as in the 2016 Rule, that such an extension would be 
authorized by section 608(a). In addition, EPA believes that section 
608(c) is reasonably construed as providing the Agency discretionary 
authority to interpret and apply the venting prohibition and the de 
minimis exemption, as they are expressly incorporated as relating to 
substitutes under section 608(c)(2). However, EPA believes that its 
statutory authority under section 608, taking that authority as a 
whole, does not extend as far with respect to substitutes as it does 
with respect to ODS, and specifically believes that section 608 is 
ambiguous with respect to the extent to which, if at all, Congress 
authorized EPA to issue refrigerant management regulations for 
substitutes.
    In light of these considerations, the Agency has re-examined its 
authority for aspects of the 2016 Rule. In particular, EPA has 
carefully reviewed the specific requirements under subpart F that were 
extended to non-exempt substitute refrigerants and evaluated whether 
those extensions were within the scope of EPA's statutory authority 
under sections 608(a) and 608(c).
    While EPA believes the scope of its authority for substitutes under 
section 608 is narrower than that for ODS, EPA maintains that section 
608 is ambiguous with respect to the extent of its authority to apply 
refrigerant management requirements to non-exempt substitute 
refrigerants. EPA is proposing to change some of the interpretations 
that supported the 2016 Rule. Specifically, EPA is proposing to 
conclude that the extension of the leak repair requirements in Sec.  
82.157 to non-exempt substitute refrigerants exceeds EPA's legal 
authority and furthermore is not necessary to fulfill the purposes of 
section 608(a). EPA proposes to conclude that these changes in 
interpretations are appropriate interpretations of sections 608(a) and 
(c) in light of the statutory text, context, and EPA's historical 
views. With regard to section 608(a), EPA is also taking comment on an 
alternative legal interpretation under which the agency would not rely 
on section 608(a) for any extension of the refrigerant management 
regulations to substitute refrigerants.
    In light of EPA's proposed legal interpretations, EPA's proposal 
for amending the 2016 Rule is to rescind the extension of the leak 
repair requirements to non-exempt substitutes, while retaining the 
extension of the remaining subpart F requirements. EPA is also 
requesting comment on whether the agency should rescind the entire 
extension of the subpart F requirements to non-exempt substitutes. 
These points, and EPA's proposed legal interpretations, are discussed 
further below in the context of specific authority under sections 
608(c) and (a), respectively.

D. Authority Under CAA Sec.  608(c) To Extend Refrigerant Management 
Provisions to Non-Exempt Substitute Refrigerants

    EPA is proposing to change aspects of the interpretation of CAA 
section 608(c) that it adopted in the 2016 Rule. Under the 
interpretation proposed in this action, the Agency exceeded its 
statutory authority under section 608(c) in the 2016 Rule by extending 
the leak repair (Sec.  82.157) requirements to appliances that use only 
substitute refrigerants.
    As in prior actions under section 608, EPA continues to interpret 
section 608(c) to provide it some authority to interpret, explain, and 
enforce the venting prohibition and the de minimis exemption, as these 
are both provisions in a statutory regime that EPA is entrusted to 
administer. However, EPA also recognizes that sections 608(a) and 
608(c) differ from one another in some key respects, including the fact 
that 608(a)(1) and (2) expressly require EPA to issue regulations for 
class I and class II substances, but include no such requirement for 
(or, indeed, any mention of) substitutes.\11\ In contrast, 608(c) does 
explicitly apply to substitute refrigerants, but that subsection leaves 
EPA discretion as to whether to promulgate regulations implementing its 
provisions. In light of these differences in wording between 608(a) and 
608(c), EPA is proposing to conclude that the 2016 Rule exceeded the 
agency's authority under section 608 by extending the full set of the 
subpart F requirements to substitutes.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \11\ Section 608(a)(3) does provide that the regulations issued 
under section 608(a) ``may include requirements to use alternative 
substances (including substances which are not class I or class II 
substances), . . . or to promote the use of safe alternatives 
pursuant to section [612].'' (In implementing Title VI, EPA has at 
times used the terms ``alternative'' and ``substitute'' 
interchangeably. See, e.g., 81 FR 86779, n.1; 81 FR 82276, 82291.) 
EPA is not relying upon these provisions in 608(a)(3) in this 
document, as the proposed regulatory changes do not relate to 
requirements to use substitutes or promote their use pursuant to 
section 612. Furthermore, EPA did not rely on these authorities in 
608(a)(3) in extending the refrigerant management requirements to 
substitute refrigerants in the 2016 Rule, and is not relying on them 
in addressing the underlying questions of statutory interpretation 
at issue here.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Specifically, EPA believes that the extension of the leak repair 
requirements to non-exempt substitute refrigerants exceeded its 
authority. To justify the extension of the leak repair requirements to 
non-exempt substitute refrigerants in the 2016 Rule, EPA reversed its 
longstanding position that ``topping off'' leaking appliances was not 
venting or a knowing release of refrigerant in the course of 
maintaining, servicing, repairing, or disposing of an appliance within 
the meaning of section 608(c). Prior to the 2016 Rule, EPA's position 
had been that refrigerant released during the use of an appliance is 
not subject to the venting prohibition. When establishing the original 
leak repair provisions, EPA in 1993 stated that:

    [T]he venting prohibition itself, which applies to the 
maintenance, service, repair, and disposal of equipment, does not 
prohibit `topping off' systems, which leads to emissions of 
refrigerant during the use of equipment. The provision on knowing 
releases does, however, include the situation in which a technician 
is practically certain that his or her conduct will cause a release 
of refrigerant during the maintenance, service, repair, or disposal 
of equipment. Knowing releases also include situations in which a 
technician closes his or her eyes to obvious facts or fails to 
investigate them when aware of facts that demand investigation. [58 
FR 28672.]

    In the 2016 Rule, EPA changed the Agency's interpretation of the 
venting prohibition as part of the rationale that supported applying 
the leak repair requirements, originally issued under CAA section 
608(a), to non-exempt substitute refrigerants. EPA stated in the 2016 
Rule that it:


[[Page 49338]]


concludes that its statements in the 1993 Rule presented an overly 
narrow interpretation of the statutory venting prohibition. 
Consistent with the direction articulated in the proposed 2010 Leak 
Repair Rule, EPA is adopting a broader interpretation. When 
refrigerant must be added to an existing appliance, other than when 
originally charging the system or for a seasonal variance, the owner 
or operator necessarily knows that the system has leaks. At that 
point the owner or operator is required to calculate the leak rate. 
If the leaks exceed the applicable leak rate for that particular 
type of appliance, the owner or operator will know that absent 
repairs, subsequent additions of refrigerant will be released in a 
manner that will permit the refrigerant to enter the environment. 
Therefore, EPA interprets section 608(c) such that if a person adds 
refrigerant to an appliance that he or she knows is leaking, he or 
she also violates the venting prohibition unless he or she has 
complied with the applicable practices referenced in Sec.  
82.154(a)(2), as revised, including the leak repair requirements, as 
applicable. [81 FR 82285.]

    EPA is proposing to conclude that this 2016 interpretation exceeds 
the scope of the Agency's authority under section 608(c)(2). The agency 
is therefore proposing to return to the interpretation used prior to 
the 2016 Rule.\12\ First, the 2016 interpretation is based on a 
strained reading of section 608(c)(2) because the refrigerant releases 
from such leaks typically occur during the normal operation of the 
appliance, rather than ``in the course of maintaining, servicing, 
repairing, or disposing of '' an appliance. The operational leaks that 
trigger the leak repair provisions may take the form of a slow leak 
that results in the need to add refrigerant and that occurs in the 
weeks or months prior to the servicing event. Leaks may also result 
from an unintended catastrophic failure, which leads to a subsequent 
service event to recharge the appliance. While section 608(c)(2) 
applies to the release of substitute refrigerants in ``the course of 
maintaining, servicing, repairing, or disposing of an appliance,'' 
neither of those types of leaks typically occur in the course of 
maintaining, servicing, repairing, or disposing of an appliance. 
Moreover, EPA has always understood that few appliances are leak-free, 
which further supports the notion that leaks frequently occur during 
normal operation of an appliance.\13\ Further, EPA has recognized that 
refrigeration and air-conditioning equipment often does leak, and that 
``[t]his is particularly likely for larger and more complicated 
appliances like those subject to the subpart F leak repair 
provisions.'' (81 FR 82313). Therefore, the leak repair provisions 
apply to activities that are too distinct from the activities 
identified in section 608(c) to provide EPA with regulatory authority 
to extend the leak repair regulations to non-exempt substitute 
refrigerants.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \12\ The 2010 leak repair proposal (75 FR 78558) was not 
finalized. As noted in the 2016 Rule (81 FR 82275), EPA withdrew the 
2010 proposal in the 2016 rulemaking and re-proposed elements of the 
2010 proposal in the notice of proposed rulemaking (80 FR 69461) for 
the 2016 Rule.
    \13\ Recognizing that appliances can leak during their normal 
operation, 40 CFR 82.157(g) requires periodic leak inspections of 
appliances with 50 or more pounds of refrigerant that had been 
repaired after leaking above the applicable threshold rate. 
Automatic leak detection equipment is also allowed in lieu of 
inspections for such appliances, or portions of such appliances. 
This proposal, if finalized, would rescind this requirement for 
appliances containing only non-exempt substitute refrigerant.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    EPA notes that under the proposed revisions to its interpretation 
discussed in this document, the venting prohibition under section 
608(c) would continue to apply to actions taken in the course of 
maintaining, servicing, repairing, or disposing of appliances 
containing non-exempt substitute refrigerant, including those 
containing 50 or more pounds of such refrigerant. For example, knowing 
release from cutting refrigerant lines when disposing of an appliance 
is prohibited. Similarly, opening an appliance to repair a component 
without first isolating it and recovering the refrigerant would 
typically lead to a knowing release of refrigerant to the environment. 
It is also possible that some ``topping off'' may occur in an appliance 
with a leak that is so visible, audible, or frequent that adding 
refrigerant to the appliance creates the practical certainty that the 
refrigerant will be released contemporaneously with the servicing event 
and therefore may constitute a knowing release. For example, hearing 
hissing or noticing a ruptured line while continuing to add refrigerant 
to an appliance would constitute a knowing release. However, EPA does 
not believe this occurs in a substantial number of situations, and thus 
does not believe that the possibility of such an event justifies a 
blanket interpretation that ``topping off'' an appliance that has 
leaked, absent adherence to the leak repair requirements at Sec.  
82.157, is necessarily and per se a violation of 608(c).
    EPA is proposing to remove the extension of the leak repair 
requirements to non-exempt substitute refrigerants as exceeding its 
authority, but to retain the other provisions of subpart F as 
appropriate measures to implement, explain, and enforce the venting 
prohibition for non-exempt substitute refrigerants. In contrast to the 
leak repair requirements, the other provisions of subpart F that EPA 
extended to non-exempt substitute refrigerants in the 2016 Rule relate 
directly to emissions that necessarily occur in the course of 
maintaining, servicing, repairing, or disposing of an appliance. 
Accordingly, those provisions directly address the potential for 
knowing releases of non-exempt substitute refrigerants that would be 
within the scope of section 608(c)(2). Moreover, prior to the 2016 
Rule, EPA had long recognized connections between other subpart F 
requirements and the potential for releases to occur during appliance 
maintenance, service, repair or disposal, and continues to do so. For 
example, failure to properly evacuate an appliance (Sec.  82.156 and 
Sec.  82.158) before opening it for servicing will create the practical 
certainty that the refrigerant in the appliance will be released during 
the servicing event. EPA required that recovery and/or recycling 
equipment be tested and certified by an EPA-approved laboratory or 
organization ``[i]n order to ensure that recycling and recovery 
equipment on the market is capable of limiting emissions.'' (58 FR 
28682).
    Similarly, disposing of the appliance without removing the 
refrigerant (Sec.  82.155) will result in the release of any remaining 
refrigerant during disposal of the appliance. EPA acknowledged this 
when finalizing the safe disposal requirements in 1993, writing: ``The 
Agency wishes to clarify that the prohibition on venting refrigerant 
includes individuals who are preparing to dispose of a used 
appliance.'' (58 FR 28703). EPA established the reclamation requirement 
for used refrigerant to prevent equipment damage from dirty refrigerant 
and ensure a market for recovered refrigerants, both of which minimize 
knowingly venting or releasing of refrigerant during appliance 
maintenance, servicing, repair, and disposal. (58 FR 28678). With 
respect to the sales restriction and technician certification 
requirements, EPA stated that ``unrestricted sales will enable 
untrained or undertrained technicians to obtain access to refrigerants 
that are likely to be used improperly in connection with servicing 
activities that will result in the venting of refrigerants'' (58 FR 
28698) and that ``[e]ducating technicians on how to contain and 
conserve refrigerant effectively, curtailing illegal venting into the 
atmosphere'' was one of the primary reasons many technicians commented

[[Page 49339]]

in support of the certification program. (58 FR 28691). Accordingly, as 
part of EPA's proposal, the agency would conclude that the 2016 Rule's 
extension of the other, non-leak-repair requirements under subpart F to 
non-exempt substitute refrigerants is within the scope of EPA's 
authority under CAA section 608(c)(2), because those other requirements 
implement that provision's venting prohibition.
    While EPA continues to believe that it has authority to implement, 
explain, and enforce the venting prohibition and the exemptions in 
608(c) for non-exempt substitute refrigerants, as explained above, it 
is proposing to conclude that the extension of the full set of the 
subpart F requirements to appliances using only substitute refrigerant 
exceeded its legal authority under section 608(c). As explained above, 
it is proposing to rescind the extension of subpart F's leak repair 
requirements to appliances using only non-exempt substitute 
refrigerants. EPA is also seeking comments on whether the agency should 
instead withdraw the entire extension of subpart F requirements to non-
exempt substitute refrigerants in the 2016 Rule given its proposed 
interpretation. Section 608(c) does not expressly require EPA to issue 
regulations, nor does it contain specific deadlines or requirements for 
any rules that EPA might promulgate under that authority. Accordingly, 
EPA has substantial discretion in issuing regulations under section 
608(c) and the timing of any such regulations. Given that discretion, 
EPA could conclude that a full withdrawal of the extension of subpart F 
requirements to non-exempt substitute refrigerants is appropriate and 
warranted at this time. Such an approach could be reasonable in light 
of the questions as to EPA's legal authority for that extension. For 
example, if EPA were to conclude that interpreting section 608(c) to 
authorize the same full set of requirements as 608(a) for refrigerants 
renders 608(a) superfluous with respect to refrigerants \14\ and that 
this structural issue raises critical uncertainties as to the extent to 
which EPA should replicate 608(a) requirements under 608(c), EPA could 
decide that a full withdrawal of the extension is an appropriate use of 
its discretion under section 608(c). Such action would allow the Agency 
to consider and potentially develop options not discussed in this 
proposed rule. If EPA were to decide that a full withdrawal of the 
extension is prudent, the prohibitions under section 608(c) would 
continue to apply directly to any knowing release of non-exempt 
substitute refrigerant in the course of maintaining, servicing, 
repairing, or disposing of an appliance.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \14\ While section 608(c) only addresses refrigerants, whether 
ODS or substitutes, section 608(a) is not limited to refrigerants. 
In fact, EPA has applied its authority under section 608(a) to 
establish or consider regulations for ODS in non-refrigerant 
applications. For example, in 1998, EPA issued a rule on halon 
management under the authority of section 608(a)(2). (63 FR 11084). 
Accordingly, when considering potential issues arising from 
interpretations of section 608(c) to authorize the same requirements 
as 608(a), it is appropriate to focus on refrigerants.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    For the reasons discussed above in this section, EPA is 
specifically requesting comment on whether to retain the non-leak 
repair requirements in the final rule or whether to rescind the 
entirety of the 2016 Rule's extension of the subpart F requirements to 
non-exempt substitutes. Included in the docket for this action is a 
version of the regulatory text in subpart F with red-line strikeout 
showing the types of revisions to subpart F that the Agency is 
considering making, should it decide to finalize a full withdrawal of 
the 2016 Rule's extension of the refrigerant management requirements to 
non-exempt substitutes. Additional information on the costs and 
benefits of rescinding that entire extension is found in Section III of 
this document and the technical support document in the docket. If EPA 
were to rescind the extension in full through this rulemaking, it would 
likely give subsequent consideration to whether some subset of the 
subpart F requirements, a different set of requirements, or some 
combination of the two, would be an appropriate means of implementing 
the venting prohibition for substitutes. Such consideration could 
result in a new proposal following final action on this current 
proposal.
    EPA requests comment on the proposed changes discussed above, 
including the proposed changes in interpretation of section 608(c). EPA 
also welcomes comment on whether section 608(c) provides authority to 
promulgate a set of leak repair provisions, or refrigerant management 
requirements generally, for non-exempt substitutes that may be 
different from the ones currently found in subpart F, to meet the 
purposes of that section while minimizing overlap with requirements 
authorized under section 608(a). Additionally, EPA requests comment on 
the practical considerations of implementing the venting prohibition 
for substitutes in a manner that is different from ODS. Lastly, EPA 
requests comment on whether stakeholders may have a reliance interest 
in either the leak repair provisions or the other subpart F provisions 
as they relate to substitutes under the 2016 Rule and how that interest 
would be affected by the proposed changes discussed above.

E. Authority Under CAA Sec.  608(a) To Extend Refrigerant Management 
Provisions to Non-Exempt Substitute Refrigerants

    As noted above, EPA concluded in the 2016 Rule that it had 
supplemental authority under section 608(a) to extend the subpart F 
requirements to non-exempt substitutes:

    This action extending the regulations under subpart F to non-
exempt substitutes is additionally supported by the authority in 
section 608(a) because regulations that minimize the release and 
maximize the recapture and recovery of non-exempt substitutes will 
also reduce the release and increase the recovery of ozone-depleting 
substances. Improper handling of substitute refrigerants is likely 
to contaminate appliances and recovery cylinders with mixtures of 
ODS and non-ODS substitutes, which can lead to illegal venting 
because such mixtures are difficult or expensive to reclaim or 
appropriately dispose of . . . . In short, the authority to 
promulgate regulations regarding the use of class I and II 
substances encompasses the authority to establish regulations 
regarding the proper handling of substitutes where this is needed to 
reduce emissions and maximize recapture and recycling of class I and 
II substances. Applying consistent requirements to all non-exempt 
refrigerants will reduce complexity and increase clarity for the 
regulated community and promote compliance with those requirements 
for ODS refrigerants, as well as their substitutes. [81 FR 82286.]

    In reviewing the legal interpretation of 608(a) that supported the 
2016 Rule, EPA has further examined the connection between the purposes 
of section 608(a) and the 2016 Rule's extension of subpart F 
refrigerant management requirements to non-exempt substitute 
refrigerants. After further consideration of this issue, EPA believes 
that the statements in the preamble to the 2016 Rule, which were 
advanced generally and without distinction to support extending all the 
subpart F requirements to non-exempt substitute refrigerants, failed to 
recognize that particular requirements may have a greater or lesser 
connection to the purposes of section 608(a) when applied to non-exempt 
substitute refrigerants. Accordingly, EPA is proposing to conclude that 
the connection between applying the leak repair requirements to 
appliances with only substitute refrigerants and the reduction in 
emissions of ODS is too tenuous to support reliance on CAA section 
608(a) as a basis for authority to extend the leak repair requirements 
to non-exempt substitutes.

[[Page 49340]]

    This may be particularly true when the leak repair provisions are 
compared to the other provisions of subpart F. The 2016 Rule also 
identified several scenarios where failure to apply consistent 
standards to appliances containing non-exempt substitute refrigerants 
could arguably lead to emissions of ODS. For example, improper handling 
of non-exempt substitute refrigerants by persons lacking the requisite 
training may contaminate appliances and recovery cylinders with 
mixtures of ODS and non-ODS substitutes. Contaminated appliances may 
lead to equipment failures and emissions from those systems, including 
emissions of ODS. Because contaminated cylinders may be more costly to 
recycle they may simply be destroyed. The costs of handling or properly 
disposing of these mixed refrigerants may incentivize intentional 
releases to the atmosphere. Therefore, contamination can lead to the 
release of class I and class II substances. Maintaining the sales 
restriction and technician certification requirement for non-exempt 
substitute refrigerants may reduce the possibility that refrigerant in 
the appliances will be misidentified by an uncertified person 
attempting to service the appliance, which in turn reduces the 
possibility that contamination and subsequent refrigerant releases may 
occur. Maintaining reclamation standards may ensure that used 
refrigerant is not contaminated when it reenters the market for use and 
may reduce emissions associated with the mixing of refrigerants and 
equipment damage. EPA solicits comment and any data or analysis 
commenters may have regarding these scenarios, their frequency, and 
their emissions effects.
    In contrast, requiring the repair of appliances using only 
substitute refrigerants would reduce emissions from those particular 
appliances, but is unlikely to independently reduce cross-
contamination, refrigerant mixing, or releases from an ODS appliance. 
The response to comments for the 2016 Rule \15\ did note, in the 
context of explaining EPA's authority for the revisions to 40 CFR 
82.157, that providing a consistent standard for ODS and non-exempt 
substitute refrigerants would reduce emissions of ODS by reducing the 
incidence of failure to follow the requirements for ODS appliances. 
However, in that discussion, EPA did not address whether, if all other 
subpart F requirements were extended to non-exempt substitutes, it 
would be necessary to also extend Sec.  82.157 to non-exempt substitute 
refrigerants. EPA is proposing to withdraw the extension of the subpart 
F provisions related to leak repair for non-exempt substitute 
refrigerants. Other elements of the 608 program such as the refrigerant 
sales restriction, technician certification, reclamation standards, and 
evacuation standards would continue to apply to non-exempt substitute 
refrigerants if this proposal is finalized. If these other subpart F 
requirements continue to apply, such that, for example, the regulations 
only permit certified technicians to service equipment regardless of 
whether it contains ODS or non-exempt substitutes, those requirements 
could also reduce the incidence of failure to follow the requirements 
for ODS appliances. By contrast, it is unclear how application 
specifically of the leak repair requirements to non-exempt substitute 
refrigerants would lead to additional reductions in ODS emissions if 
those other requirements are applied to non-exempt substitutes. Thus, 
insofar as the 2016 Rule was grounded in an argument that section 
608(a) supports the extension of the leak repair provisions to non-
exempt substitute refrigerants, EPA is proposing to withdraw that 
interpretation.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \15\ Response to Comments for the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking: 
Protection of Stratospheric Ozone: Update to the Refrigerant 
Management Requirements under the Clean Air Act, pages 13-14 (pdf 
pages 18-19). Available at: https://www.regulations.gov/document?D=EPA-HQ-OAR-2015-0453-0226.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    EPA is also seeking comment on whether, as a matter of statutory 
interpretation, the agency can rely on section 608(a) for the issuance 
of any of the subpart F requirements for substitute refrigerants, even 
those for which there is demonstrably a connection between the 
regulatory requirement and the purposes of section 608(a) to reduce use 
and emission of class I and II substances to the lowest achievable 
levels and maximize the recapture and recycling of such substances. As 
noted above, in section 608(a) Congress specifically required EPA to 
issue regulations for class I and class II substances that would meet 
certain statutory purposes set forth in that section. But Congress did 
not list substitutes for coverage by those requirements. In contrast, 
section 608(c) does expressly extend requirements to substitute 
refrigerants. This difference between section 608(a) and 608(c) could 
be interpreted as a manifestation of Congressional intent to 
distinguish between the categories of substances covered in these 
respective provisions and to only convey authority to address 
substitute refrigerants under 608(c), not 608(a).\16\ This 
interpretation, if adopted, would lead to the conclusion that section 
608(a) cannot provide a basis for extending any of subpart F's 
refrigerant management requirements to substitute refrigerants.\17\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \16\ This interpretation would not affect EPA's discretionary 
authority to ``include requirements to use alternative substances 
(including substances which are not class I or class II substances) 
. . . or to promote the use of safe alternatives pursuant to section 
[612]'' in regulations under section 608(a), as these authorities 
are expressly mentioned in section 608(a)(3). As discussed at n.11, 
supra, EPA did not rely on these authorities in 608(a)(3) in 
extending the refrigerant management requirements to substitute 
refrigerants in the 2016 Rule, and is not relying on them in this 
proposal or in addressing the underlying questions of statutory 
interpretation at issue here.
    \17\ Some commenters on the 2016 Rule pointed out that Congress 
specifically listed class I and class II substances for coverage 
under the regulations required by section 608(a) and contended that 
those regulations could not be applied to refrigerants that are 
neither class I nor class II substances.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    EPA requests comment on the proposed changes discussed in this 
section, including the proposed changes in interpretation of section 
608(a) so as to remove support for the extension of the leak repair 
requirements in Sec.  82.157 to non-exempt substitute refrigerants. EPA 
also requests comment on the frequency of appliances being contaminated 
by mixtures of ODS and substitute refrigerants, and the resulting 
equipment damage. Further, EPA requests comment on whether the agency 
should conclude that it could not rely on section 608(a) for any 
authority to extend subpart F requirements to substitutes. If EPA were 
to reach such a conclusion, EPA would rely solely on section 608(c) for 
the extension of the non-leak repair subpart F requirements to non-
exempt substitutes, or alternatively, would withdraw the entire 
extension. As noted previously, the docket contains a version of the 
regulatory text showing the types of revisions to subpart F that the 
Agency is considering making should it decide to finalize a full 
withdrawal of the 2016 Rule's extension of the refrigerant management 
requirements to non-exempt substitutes. In addition, EPA welcomes 
comment on whether section 608(a) provides authority to promulgate a 
set of leak repair provisions, or refrigerant management requirements 
generally, for non-exempt substitutes that may be different from the 
ones currently found in subpart F. If the Agency were to decide to 
pursue a different approach than one of the two potential outcomes 
discussed in detail in this proposed rule--the proposed action, 
rescinding the 2016 Rule's extension of the leak repair requirements to 
non-exempt

[[Page 49341]]

substitutes, or the potential alternative approach on which it takes 
comment, rescinding its extension of the full set of subpart F 
requirements to non-exempt substitutes--it would provide the public 
with an opportunity to offer comments on that different approach. 
Lastly, EPA requests comment on whether stakeholders may have a 
reliance interest in either the leak repair provisions or the other 
subpart F provisions as they relate to substitutes under the 2016 Rule 
and how that interest would be affected by the potential changes 
discussed in this section.

F. Extension of the January 1, 2019 Compliance Date for the Appliance 
Maintenance and Leak Repair Provisions for Non-Exempt Substitute 
Refrigerants

    EPA is evaluating whether the January 1, 2019 compliance date for 
the appliance maintenance and leak repair provisions for non-exempt 
substitutes remains viable for regulated entities or whether the date 
should be extended, depending on the outcome and timing of the final 
rule. EPA has been working to develop this proposed rule expeditiously 
and intends to develop the final rule as quickly as practicable, in 
recognition of the January 1, 2019 compliance date for the extension of 
the appliance maintenance and leak repair provisions at Sec.  82.157 to 
non-exempt substitutes.\18\ Despite the Agency's best efforts, it is 
possible that regulated entities will face a choice about whether to 
incur compliance costs prior to issuance of a final rule that could 
rescind those requirements for non-exempt substitutes. In that 
scenario, certain regulated entities likely would incur costs to comply 
with provisions that might ultimately be rescinded, while the foregone 
benefits of extending the compliance date likely would be limited as 
explained below. Therefore, EPA is proposing to take final action to 
extend the compliance date in Sec.  82.157(a) for appliances containing 
only non-exempt substitute refrigerants if final action on the 
substantive portions of this proposed rule will not occur within a 
reasonable time before the existing compliance date. If we take final 
action on this proposal, we will revise the first sentence of Sec.  
82.157(a) to extend the compliance date for appliances containing only 
non-exempt substitute refrigerants. Such an extension would only be for 
as long as is needed to provide regulated entities certainty on whether 
to incur expenditures necessary to comply with these provisions. EPA 
anticipates that the extension would be between six to twelve months 
beyond January 1, 2019. If needed, EPA intends to take final action on 
the proposed extension of the compliance date separate from, and 
before, taking final action on other proposals in this document.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \18\ Only the amendments to the appliance maintenance and leak 
repair provisions found at Sec.  82.157 have a compliance date of 
January 1, 2019. EPA is not proposing an extension of the compliance 
dates for the extension of any of the other subpart F requirements, 
as those compliance dates have already passed. While the amendments 
at Sec.  82.157 include revisions to the appliance maintenance and 
leak repair program that affect appliances using ODS refrigerants, 
as well those using only non-exempt substitutes, EPA is only 
proposing to extend the compliance date for appliances using only 
non-exempt substitutes, for the reasons described later in this 
document.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    EPA is proposing this extension because it anticipates that there 
could be undue costs to owners and operators to comply with the 
appliance maintenance and leak repair provisions for appliances 
containing non-exempt substitutes, such as inventorying equipment, 
establishing recordkeeping procedures, and meeting the new leak rate 
thresholds if it has not finalized any revisions within a reasonable 
time before the existing compliance date and if that compliance date is 
not extended. Facilities that have both ODS and non-exempt substitute 
appliances may already be using similar refrigerant management programs 
for all of their appliances. However, the costs may be greater for 
facilities that only have appliances that use non-exempt substitute 
refrigerants and that do not have established procedures for ODS-
containing equipment. In the 2016 Rule EPA did consider the ongoing 
costs that such facilities would face in complying with the newly 
applicable subpart F requirements, but did not consider potential one-
time costs to such facilities associated with establishing a 
refrigerant management program or designing a recordkeeping system. 
EPA's analysis of appliance data submitted to the California Air 
Resources Board under its Refrigerant Management Program show that 46 
percent of facilities only have HFC appliances. Within that group of 
facilities, EPA estimates that 55 percent have at least one appliance 
that exceeds the new threshold rates. As discussed in the economic 
analysis section, EPA estimates that extending the compliance date by 
up to 12 months would result in foregone annual GHG emissions 
reductions benefits of 3 MMTCO2e.
    EPA requests comment on the proposal to extend the date by which 
appliances containing non-exempt substitute refrigerants must comply 
with Sec.  82.157. EPA is interested in whether facilities, and 
particularly those facilities that do not have ODS equipment, 
anticipate any practical difficulties in gearing up to meet the January 
1, 2019 compliance date, and intends to consider such information in 
determining whether a compliance date extension is needed. EPA 
additionally requests comments on any costs or hardship that owners and 
operators of appliances containing non-exempt substitutes would face if 
this compliance date is not extended and if EPA has not finalized any 
revisions within a reasonable time before the current compliance date 
for Sec.  82.157, and on any foregone benefits from extending this 
compliance date.
    EPA further notes that the United States Court of Appeals for the 
District of Columbia Circuit issued a recent decision in Air Alliance 
Houston v. EPA, No. 17-1155 (DC Cir. August 17, 2018), which addressed 
an EPA rule delaying the effective date of a previously issued EPA 
regulation in the context of a reconsideration proceeding under section 
307(d)(7)(B) of the Clean Air Act. In contrast to the rule at issue in 
the Air Alliance Houston case, this notice of proposed rulemaking is 
not occurring in the context of a section 307(d)(7)(B) reconsideration. 
Nevertheless, EPA requests comments regarding the implications, if any, 
of this recent decision for its ability to finalize an extension of the 
compliance date as proposed in this section. EPA will consider these 
comments in deciding whether to finalize such an extension.

III. Economic Analysis

    Section 608 of the CAA does not explicitly address whether costs or 
benefits should be considered in developing regulations under that 
section. Because the statutory language does not dictate a particular 
means of taking economic factors into account, if at all, EPA has 
discretion to adopt a reasonable method for doing so. EPA has focused 
primarily on the proper scope of the Agency's authority to regulate, 
although it has also presented and considered an analysis of costs and 
benefits in making the choices underlying this proposed rulemaking. EPA 
interprets section 608 to permit it to consider costs and benefits, but 
does not interpret section 608 to require it to propose or select the 
option with the best cost-benefit outcome.
    While EPA is proposing to determine that the 2016 Rule's extension 
of the full set of subpart F requirements, in its entirety, to non-
exempt substitute refrigerants exceeded EPA's statutory authority, the 
agency notes that it has

[[Page 49342]]

also considered costs in developing this proposal. EPA's economic 
analysis indicates that the expected cost savings for the proposal 
would outweigh the monetized foregone benefits. Specifically, the $39 
million annual savings of rescinding the 2016 Rule's extension of the 
leak repair provisions to non-exempt substitutes would outweigh the 
foregone benefits of $15 million in avoided refrigerant purchases. For 
the scenario where the agency would rescind the entire extension of the 
subpart F requirements to non-exempt substitutes in the 2016 Rule, the 
cost savings of $43 million would outweigh the same $15 million in 
foregone benefits.\19\ EPA requests comment on whether it should 
continue to explicitly take costs into consideration in the final rule, 
and if so how.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \19\ This analysis is based on effects that EPA monetized in the 
2016 Rule. As discussed later in this section, EPA is requesting 
comment on additional factors.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The Agency attempted to minimize costs in the 2016 Rule, in 
particular by allowing more time and options for repair before 
requiring retrofit or retirement. As an example, EPA provided an 
extension if a component is not available in the first 30 days after 
discovering the leak. Prior to 2016, an owner/operator would have had 
to retrofit or retire their appliance. Owners and operators of 
appliances containing non-exempt substitutes would also benefit from 
those flexibilities, but also became subject to a new regulatory 
scheme.
    EPA is proposing to remove the requirement to repair leaks in 
appliances containing only substitute refrigerants, along with the 
associated verification tests, leak inspections, and recordkeeping. In 
the 2016 Rule, EPA estimated that extending the leak repair provisions 
to appliances containing non-exempt substitutes would have an annual 
cost of $39 million in 2014 dollars using a 7 percent discount rate. 
This is composed of $10 million in recordkeeping costs and $29 million 
in repair and leak inspection costs. Costs were modeled for a single 
typical year in which all the requirements were in effect, based on the 
appliance distribution modeled for 2015. To allow for ease of 
comparison between the two rules, the model and the use of 2014 dollars 
are the same in the analysis for this proposal as EPA used in the 2016 
Rule.
    In the 2016 Rule, EPA also estimated lower expenditures to purchase 
replacement refrigerant and lower emissions of refrigerant expressed in 
ozone depletion potential tons and global warming potential. The 
current leak repair requirement in the 2016 Rule was expected to result 
in appliance owners or operators purchasing less refrigerant because 
they would be able to identify and repair leaks earlier, preventing 
refrigerant releases. EPA estimated that the total annual reduced 
expenditures for purchasing non-exempt substitute refrigerant would be 
$15 million. By withdrawing that portion of the 2016 Rule, those 
reduced expenditures would not be realized.
    EPA estimates that this proposed rule to rescind the extension of 
the leak repair provisions to substitutes would not directly affect the 
stratospheric ozone layer. EPA is not proposing to amend any provisions 
of 40 CFR part 82, subpart F that relate to ODS refrigerants. EPA 
estimates that this proposed action would result in foregone annual GHG 
emissions reductions benefits of 2.9 MMTCO2e--approximately 
a 40 percent reduction from the level estimated for the 2016 
rulemaking. GHG emissions reductions benefits associated with the 
reduction in emissions of ODS refrigerants would be retained.
    As discussed previously, EPA is requesting comment on whether to 
withdraw the entire extension of subpart F requirements to non-exempt 
substitute refrigerants. EPA estimates that rescinding the entire 
subpart F requirements for non-exempt substitute refrigerants would 
reduce the annual burden associated with the 2016 Rule by at least an 
additional $4 million per year (for a total annual burden reduction of 
at least $43 million per year). This is composed of $3 million in 
compliance costs associated with the requirement to use self-sealing 
valves on small cans of refrigerant and $1 million in recordkeeping 
costs. The unrealized annual savings associated with reduced use of 
non-exempt substitute refrigerant would remain $15 million, as 
discussed previously. Thus, EPA estimates that withdrawing the entire 
extension of subpart F requirements to non-exempt substitute 
refrigerants would reduce total compliance costs by at least $28 
million per year. EPA estimates that this would result in additional 
foregone annual greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reductions benefits of 
0.7 MMTCO2e associated with the use of self-sealing valves 
(for a total of at least 3.6 MMTCO2e). While the majority of 
GHG reductions from HFC appliances that EPA quantified were the result 
of extending the leak repair provisions to non-exempt substitutes, in 
the 2016 Rule EPA asserted that there would be other, unquantified 
benefits resulting from extending the full set of refrigerant 
management provisions to substitutes.
    In the 2016 Rule, EPA did not identify any additional costs or 
benefits associated with extending certain provisions of subpart F to 
non-exempt substitute refrigerants. These provisions include the 
evacuation requirements, recovery equipment certification, safe 
disposal requirements, reclamation standards, and technician 
certification. As noted in the technical support document for the 2016 
Rule, EPA assumes full compliance with the venting prohibition and such 
actions that were considered necessary to comply with the venting 
prohibition were not considered to lead to additional costs or 
benefits.
    With regard to the extension of the 608 technician certification 
requirement to non-exempt substitute refrigerants in the 2016 Rule, EPA 
understood that most technicians serviced both appliances containing 
ODS refrigerants, which were previously subject to the 608 technician 
certification requirements, and appliances containing non-exempt 
substitutes. Most technicians are contractors who work on appliances of 
various ages and for multiple clients, including both individuals and 
businesses. There was no evidence that facilities using only non-exempt 
substitute refrigerants are segregated geographically, such that a 
technician in a certain county would only encounter appliances solely 
using non-exempt substitutes, or are segregated by business type, such 
that a technician who only works in one sector (e.g., supermarkets or 
residential air conditioning) would only encounter appliances solely 
using non-exempt substitutes. Based on this rationale, EPA concluded in 
the 2016 Rule that it was extremely unlikely that a person in the air-
conditioning and refrigeration equipment servicing field would never 
encounter equipment containing ODS refrigerant during the course of 
their career. Accordingly, in the 2016 Rule, EPA assumed persons 
entering that field would seek 608 technician certifications in order 
to maintain competitiveness and persons currently in that field already 
had 608 certification so that they could accept jobs that involved 
appliances containing ODS refrigerant.
    While commenters on the 2016 Rule did not provide any information 
indicating EPA's analysis was missing a significant group of new 
technicians that would be newly required to go through the 608 
certification process, during the development of this notice of 
proposed rulemaking one Federal Department indicated that they had 608 
certified technicians working on

[[Page 49343]]

facilities with appliances containing class I or class II refrigerant, 
and a separate group of un-certified persons working at facilities that 
contained only appliances using non-exempt substitute refrigerant.
    Based on this new information, EPA broadly requests comment on 
whether there are costs associated with the technician certification 
requirements in the 2016 Rule and on whether removal of that technician 
certification requirement for non-exempt substitutes would alleviate 
those costs. EPA particularly requests comment on whether this Federal 
Department's arrangement is typical, either for larger entities that 
have in-house personnel servicing appliances or for contractors that 
provide technicians to service refrigeration and cooling equipment. If 
so, EPA requests comment on what training was provided prior to the 
2016 Rule related to the handling of refrigerants or the venting 
prohibition for those technicians, whether there were any costs 
associated with tracking which personnel are 608 certified and thus 
were eligible to work on appliances containing ODS refrigerant, and 
which were not certified and thus were only eligible to work on 
appliances containing non-exempt substitutes. Similarly, EPA broadly 
requests comments on whether there are costs associated with the other 
provisions that were extended to non-exempt substitute refrigerants in 
the 2016 Rule for which EPA had previously assumed no incremental 
compliance costs. Conversely, because those requirements have now gone 
into effect, EPA requests comment on whether there are any costs 
associated with rescinding those requirements as they apply to non-
exempt substitute refrigerants.
    Details of the methods used to estimate the benefits of this 
proposed rule are discussed in the Analysis of the Economic Impact of 
the Proposed 2018 Revisions to the National Recycling and Emission 
Reduction Program in the docket. For a complete description of the 
methodology used in EPA's analysis, see the technical support document 
and Section VI of the 2016 Rule (81 FR 82344).
    To avoid the costs associated with leaking appliances and increased 
refrigerant purchases, owners and operators of large appliances that 
use non-exempt substitute refrigerants may already be engaged in 
effective refrigerant management programs that work for their 
facilities and their types of equipment. EPA welcomes input from owners 
and operators of such equipment for how to achieve the goals of the 
2016 Rule in reducing refrigerant leaks without a comprehensive 
regulatory program for leak repair.

IV. Statutory and Executive Order Reviews

A. Executive Order 12866: Regulatory Planning and Review and Executive 
Order 13563: Improving Regulation and Regulatory Review

    This action is a significant regulatory action that was submitted 
to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review. Any changes 
made in response to OMB recommendations have been documented in the 
docket. EPA prepared an economic analysis of the potential costs and 
benefits associated with this action which is available in Docket 
Number EPA-HQ-OAR-2017-0629.

B. Executive Order 13771: Reducing Regulations and Controlling 
Regulatory Costs

    This action is expected to be an Executive Order 13771 deregulatory 
action. Details on the estimated cost savings of this proposed rule can 
be found in EPA's analysis of the potential costs and benefits 
associated with this action.

C. Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA)

    The information collection activities in this proposed rule have 
been submitted for approval to OMB under the PRA. The Information 
Collection Request (ICR) document that the EPA prepared has been 
assigned EPA ICR number 1626.16. You can find a copy of the ICR in the 
docket for this rule, and it is briefly summarized here.
    EPA is proposing to revise the leak repair provisions so they apply 
only to equipment using refrigerant containing a class I or class II 
substance. This proposal does not affect the recordkeeping and 
reporting requirements finalized in the 2016 Rule that apply to 
appliances containing 50 or more pounds of an ODS refrigerant. There 
are no new records that would be maintained or reports that would be 
submitted under this proposal. Most of this burden is already covered 
by the existing requirements in 40 CFR part 82, subpart F, and the 
existing ICR.
    Respondents/affected entities: This proposal would remove reporting 
and recordkeeping requirements for owners and operators of appliances 
containing 50 or more pounds of a non-exempt substitute refrigerant 
(e.g., HFCs) and technicians servicing such appliances. Entities 
required to comply with reporting and recordkeeping requirements 
include technicians; technician certification programs; refrigerant 
wholesalers; refrigerant reclaimers; refrigeration and air-conditioning 
equipment owners and/or operators; and other establishments that 
perform refrigerant removal, service, or disposal.
    Respondent's obligation to respond: Mandatory (40 CFR part 82, 
subpart F).
    Estimated number of respondents: 573,731.
    Frequency of response: The frequency of responses vary from once a 
year to daily. Public reporting burden for this collection of 
information is estimated to vary from one minute to 9.4 hours per 
response, including time for reviewing instructions and gathering, 
maintaining, and submitting information.
    Total estimated burden: 434,359 hours (per year). Burden is defined 
at 5 CFR 1320.3(b).
    Total estimated cost: $24,625,892 (per year). There are no 
estimated annualized capital or operation & maintenance costs 
associated with the reporting or recordkeeping requirements.
    An agency may not conduct or sponsor, and a person is not required 
to respond to, a collection of information unless it displays a 
currently valid OMB control number. The OMB control numbers for the 
EPA's regulations in 40 CFR are listed in 40 CFR part 9.
    Submit your comments on the Agency's need for this information, the 
accuracy of the provided burden estimates and any suggested methods for 
minimizing respondent burden to the EPA using the docket identified at 
the beginning of this rule. You may also send your ICR-related comments 
to OMB's Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs via email to 
OIRA_submission@omb.eop.gov, Attention: Desk Officer for the EPA. Since 
OMB is required to make a decision concerning the ICR between 30 and 60 
days after receipt, OMB must receive comments no later than October 31, 
2018. The EPA will respond to any ICR-related comments in the final 
rule.

D. Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA)

    I certify that this action will not have a significant economic 
impact on a substantial number of small entities under the RFA. In 
making this determination, the impact of concern is any significant 
adverse economic impact on small entities. An agency may certify that a 
rule will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial 
number of small entities if the rule relieves regulatory burden, has no 
net burden or otherwise has a positive economic effect on the small 
entities subject to the rule. This proposed rule would not impose any

[[Page 49344]]

new regulatory requirements. It is deregulatory in that it proposes to 
remove required leak repair and maintenance practices and associated 
recordkeeping for appliances containing non-exempt substitute 
refrigerant. This document also seeks comments on withdrawal of 
additional refrigerant management requirements for appliances 
containing non-exempt substitute refrigerant. We have therefore 
concluded that this action will relieve regulatory burden for directly 
regulated small entities.

E. Unfunded Mandates Reform Act

    This action does not contain any unfunded mandate as described in 
UMRA, 2 U.S.C. 1531-1538, and does not significantly or uniquely affect 
small governments. The action imposes no enforceable duty on any state, 
local or tribal governments or the private sector.

F. Executive Order 13132: Federalism

    This action does not have federalism implications. It will not have 
substantial direct effects on the states, on the relationship between 
the national government and the states, or on the distribution of power 
and responsibilities among the various levels of government.

G. Executive Order 13175: Consultation and Coordination With Indian 
Tribal Governments

    This action does not have tribal implications as specified in 
Executive Order 13175. It will not have substantial direct effects on 
tribal governments, on the relationship between the federal government 
and Indian tribes, or on the distribution of power and responsibilities 
between the federal government and Indian tribes, as specified in 
Executive Order 13175. Thus, Executive Order 13175 does not apply to 
this action.

H. Executive Order 13045: Protection of Children From Environmental 
Health Risks and Safety Risks

    This action is not subject to Executive Order 13045 because it is 
not economically significant as defined in Executive Order 12866. EPA 
has not conducted a separate analysis of risks to infants and children 
associated with this proposed rule.

I. Executive Order 13211: Actions That Significantly Affect Energy 
Supply, Distribution, or Use

    This action is not a ``significant energy action'' because it is 
not likely to have a significant adverse effect on the supply, 
distribution, or use of energy.

J. National Technology Transfer and Advancement Act (NTTAA)

    This rulemaking does not involve technical standards.

K. Executive Order 12898: Federal Actions To Address Environmental 
Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Populations

    EPA believes that it is not feasible to quantify any 
disproportionately high and adverse effects from this action on 
minority populations, low-income populations and/or indigenous peoples, 
as specified in Executive Order 12898 (59 FR 7629, February 16, 1994).

List of Subjects in 40 CFR Part 82

    Environmental protection, Air pollution control, Chemicals, 
Reporting and recordkeeping requirements.

    Dated: September 18, 2018.
Andrew R. Wheeler,
Acting Administrator.

    For the reasons set forth in the preamble, the Environmental 
Protection Agency proposes to amend 40 CFR part 82 as follows:

PART 82--PROTECTION OF STRATOSPHERIC OZONE

0
1. The authority citation for part 82 continues to read as follows:

    Authority: 42 U.S.C. 7414, 7601, 7671-7671q.

0
2. Amend Sec.  82.154 by revising paragraph (a)(2)(i) to read as 
follows:


Sec.  82.154  Prohibitions.

    (a) * * *
    (2) * * *
    (i) The applicable practices in Sec.  82.155 and Sec.  82.156 are 
observed, the practices in Sec.  82.157 are observed for appliances 
that contain a class I or class II refrigerant, recovery and/or 
recycling machines that meet the requirements in Sec.  82.158 are used 
whenever refrigerant is removed from an appliance, the technician 
certification provisions in Sec.  82.161 are observed, and the 
reclamation requirements in Sec.  82.164 are observed; or
* * * * *
0
3. Amend Sec.  82.157 by revising paragraph (a) to read as follows:


Sec.  82.157  Appliance maintenance and leak repair.

    (a) Applicability. This section applies as of January 1, 2019. This 
section applies only to appliances with a full charge of 50 or more 
pounds of any class I or class II refrigerant or blend containing a 
class I or class II refrigerant. Notwithstanding the use of the term 
refrigerant in this section, the requirements of this section do not 
apply to appliances containing solely substitute refrigerants. Unless 
otherwise specified, the requirements of this section apply to the 
owner or operator of the appliance.
* * * * *
[FR Doc. 2018-21084 Filed 9-28-18; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 6560-50-P