The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is considering a proposal that could eliminate refrigerant sales restrictions on non-ozone depleting refrigerants such as R-134a. Specifically, the proposed rule suggests reversing a 2016 rule that instituted air conditioning appliance maintenance and leak repair requirements to non-ozone depleting substances (ODS). While the proposal for the most part applies to stationary air conditioners, EPA is also asking for comments on provisions of the 2016 regulation that extended refrigerant sales restrictions to non-ODS such as R-134a. Those regulations, which went into effect in 2018, permitted sales of small containers of non-ODS refrigerants to non-certified individuals as long as the container was equipped with a self-sealing valve.
EPA is proposing to eliminate the application of the leak repair requirements to non-ODS refrigerants based on their current interpretation that they do not have the authority under the Clean Air Act to apply the requirements to nonozone depleting refrigerants. EPA also states that while they are only seeking to overturn one part of the rule, they are asking for comment as to whether it has the authority to impose the refrigerant sales restrictions on non-ODS as well.