Board approves phase out of hydrofluorocarbons in Virginia
HFCs are used in the manufacture of some foam products, aerosols, refrigerants, aerosols and fire extinguishers, and can have a significant impact on global warming in part due to their long presence in the atmosphere before breaking down.
The regulation, approved by the Board following Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) staff recommendations, public comment and discussion, will become effective June 1, 2021. The regulation was developed with participation and support of a stakeholder workgroup pursuant to legislation passed by the Virginia General Assembly in 2020 in advance of federal requirements to phase out these compounds.
The production and use of HFCs in the Commonwealth of Virginia, in most applications, must be discontinued by Jan. 1, 2022.
“We are pleased to become the tenth state, and the first southern state, to phase out HFCs, which is necessary to limit the Commonwealth’s contributions to climate change,” said DEQ Director David Paylor. “This regulation continues the significant progress Virginia has already made – and continues to make – to become a more environmentally protective, climate-friendly state.”
Over the last quarter, there were no new high priority violations and one consent order. An additional nine consent orders are in development. The Mountain Valley Pipeline Lambert Compressor Station air permit is expected to be considered by the Board at its next meeting this summer.
The Board also heard updates from Director Paylor and staff. Director Paylor reported that the agency will receive approximately $12 million that was approved by the 2020 General Assembly, which will help restore funds the agency has lost in recent decades. The funds will enable the agency to hire approximately 65 positions in Air, Water and Land programs, as well as outreach staff in each of DEQ’s six regional offices, who will support the agency’s Office of Communications – and as just announced by the agency this week – the new Office of Environmental Justice.
Air and Renewable Energy Division Director Mike Dowd discussed the development of upcoming regulations to limit methane leaks from natural gas infrastructure, greenhouse gas inventory and the Advanced Clean Cars bill (HB 1965), as well as efforts to conform DEQ regulations to federal requirements.
Dowd also shared that the Commonwealth received $43 million in proceeds from its first auction as a participant of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), which will fund low-income energy efficiency programs and resiliency efforts. The next RGGI auction will be held in June.