Chemical maker wants high court to reverse Appeals Court ruling and allow EPA to block use of HFCs.
U.S. Supreme Court
Honeywell, a Morris Plains, N.J.-based manufacturer of synthetic refrigerants, plans to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court for a reversal of an August 2017 ruling on federal oversight of HFCs by U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
On January 26, the Appeals Court denied petitions for a rehearing by the full court filed by Honeywell, Chemours and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), which were intervenors in the case, Mexichem Fluor, Inc. v. EPA (Arkema was another plaintiff). The Environmental Protection Agency did not ask the Appeals Court for a rehearing.
In the original ruling last August, a three-judge panel in the Appeals Court decided 2-1 that the EPA cannot require companies to replace HFCs in current or future HVAC&R equipment or other applications with low-GWP alternatives under the SNAP (Significant New Alternatives Policy) program; these alternatives include natural refrigerants, as well as HFOs and HFO blends manufactured by Honeywell and Chemours.
“Honeywell is deeply disappointed in the Court’s decision not to review the August D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals’ ruling regarding the EPA’s Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP) program,” said a Honeywell spokesperson in a statement. “We believe the Court missed an opportunity to reverse its initial decision, which ignored the original intent of SNAP to direct the Environmental Protection Agency to replace ozone-depleting substances with safer alternatives.”
The spokesperson added that Honeywell will appeal to the Supreme Court “to ensure that American companies continue to innovate, manufacture and commercialize next-generation technologies that are better for human health and the environment.”
Chemours has not yet publicly stated whether it plans to also file an appeal with the Supreme Court.
“We believe the [Appeals] Court missed an opportunity to reverse its initial decision, which ignored the original intent of SNAP to direct the Environmental Protection Agency to replace ozone-depleting substances with safer alternatives.”
– Honeywell spokesperson
At a conference hosted February 5 by the Hudson Institute in Washington, D.C., David Doniger, senior strategic director of the NRDC’s Climate and Clean Energy Program, said the NRDC is seriously considering whether to ask the Supreme Court for review of that decision. "We’ll decide in the next few weeks.”
He noted that it can be more difficult to get the DC Court of Appeals to rehear one of its own opinions than it is to get the Supreme Court to take the case on appeal. “Not to say the Supreme Court will take the case but it may be of interest because there are some important legal interpretation principles at stake.”
If NRDC is not successful in getting the Supreme Court to hear the case – or in parallel with trying to get it before the Supreme Court – NRDC will work with states like California that are moving forward with their own HFC-reduction schemes.
“Eleven states supported our position in the case,” he said. In addition to California, “you could expect a number of other big states which have an important share of the air conditioning and refrigeration market to be interested in doing what California does,” said Doniger. In that case, he added, there may end up being a “patchwork” of state regulations and additional “uncertainty”.
The NRDC also plans to work with industry and members of the U.S. Senate “on both sides of the aisle” to move the Kigali Amendment to the Senate for ratification “and get two-thirds of the Senate to approve it,” Doniger said. The Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol calls for a global phase-down of HFCs, and will start taking effect in ratified countries January 1, 2019.