The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is evaluating comments submitted in response to its proposal to increase the charge limit for hydrocarbons in domestic refrigerators from 57 g to 150 g.

If the agency finds “adverse” comments, the rule would be withdrawn and the EPA would address the comments in a subsequent rule on charge limits, said Chenise Farquharson, the EPA’s coordinator for the Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP) program.

The 45-day comment period ended January 26. The EPA has until March 12 to withdraw the original proposal.

“We received about 20 comments and we’re going through them,” said Farquharson.“We’re discussing with our attorneys whether any of the comments would be considered adverse.”

If the EPA issues a subsequent rule on increasing the charge limit for hydrocarbons in domestic refrigerators, it could “go a different route,” she said.

“We received about 20 comments and we’re going through them.”

Chenise Farquharson, EPA

Last November the EPA proposed raising the charge limit for propane, isobutane and R441A to 150 g from 57 g in new household refrigerators and freezers under the SNAP program, a move that would open the U.S. domestic market to hydrocarbon-based refrigeration appliances.

The EPA said it was submitting the rule change – titled “Protection of the Stratospheric Ozone: Revision to References for Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Sector to Incorporate Latest Edition of Certain Industry, Consensus-based Standards” – for publication in the Federal Register, which took place December 11, 2017.

The change was considered “a direct final rule,” barring “adverse comment” received within 45 days from the date of publication in the Federal Register.

The EPA “is taking this action as a direct final rule without prior proposal because EPA views this as a noncontroversial revision and anticipates no adverse comments,” the agency said. “The action does not place any significant burden on the regulated community and ensures consistency with industry standards.”

The EPA’s new use condition for flammable (A3) refrigerants is linked to UL 60335-2-24, Edition, which was revised in late April of this year to increase the hydrocarbon charge allowed in U.S. domestic refrigerators to 150 g from 57 g, the amount allowed under the previous standard, UL 250.

The 57 g limit is widely seen as an impediment to the adoption of energy-efficient hydrocarbon refrigeration in the U.S. domestic market. Elsewhere in the world, where 150 g has long been the charge limit for domestic refrigerators, hydrocarbon units have gained substantial market share.

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