The comment period for the October 1, 2018 proposal to revise 40 CFR 82, Subpart F ended on November 15, 2018. Numerous comments were submitted on both sides of the issue to roll back the rule to exclude substitute refrigerants. Therefore, a six month extension for the leak repair provisions as they apply to large (≥50 lbs) appliances containing substitute refrigerants such as R-134a, R-407C, and R-410A appeared likely. Surprisingly, US EPA has indicated that an extension will NOT be issued. Rather, US EPA intends to focus its efforts on finalizing a rule change as quickly as possible. However, US EPA has not indicated how significant the rule revision will be. Additionally, before the rule can be finalized, it must undergo review by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). While OMB review is intended to be complete within 90 days, recent rule reviews have taken much longer. For example, the October 1, 2018 proposed rule languished at OMB for more than 120 days.
Consequently, the existing rule will be in effect on January 1, 2019, and could be in place for a significant portion of 2019, even for substitute refrigerants. Therefore, affected facilities should make every effort to be in compliance with the existing rule by the compliance deadline of January 1, 2019. This is particularly important for Title V facilities that will have to certify compliance with this rule as part of their periodic deviation reports and annual compliance certifications. Further updates will be provided as soon as the final rule is available.
For a more detailed discussion of the refrigerant rule, see the related article, Refrigerant Management Rule - Ready or Not.