The Trump administration is planning to alter its rollback of Obama-era clean car rules to allow credits for automakers that install less-polluting air conditioners in their vehicles, including those that use CO2 as a refrigerant, according to a report in E&E News.

The move came in response to complaints from AC manufacturers and Chemours and Honeywell, manufacturers of R1234yf, a low-GWP refrigerant that would also qualify for the credits. The EPA allows CO2 (R744), R1234yf and R152a as low-GWP alternatives to R134a, the common mobile AC refrigerant that has a GWP of 1,430. With the exception of German manufacturers Volkswagon and Daimler, which have selected CO2 as a mobile air conditioning (MAC) refrigerant, car makers have largely opted for R1234yf as a substitute for R134a. 

In its original proposal for the rollback of clean car rules, the Trump administration suggested eliminating the compliance credits for low-GWP MAC. But in its final rule expected this spring or summer, the administration plans to restore the credits, according to E&E News. But the final rule would still roll back the Obama effort to nearly double fuel economy standards in cars by 2025.

To date, the Trump administration has turned a deaf ear to industry requests regarding refrigerants, such as moving the HFC-reduction scheme under the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol to the Senate for ratification. The administration has also allowed the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to completely abandon Obama-era HFC regulations (pending current rulemaking) following U.S. Court of Appeals decision partially vacating Obama-era rules. EPA has proposed rolling back a rule aimed at preventing HFC leaks.

One of the abandoned Obama HFC regulations, Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP) Rule 20, ruled that R134a would be unacceptable in New Light-Duty MAC systems as of model year 2021. California last year adopted SNAP Rules 20 and 21 but did not include the prohibition on R134a in those MAC systems. Other states, including Connecticut, Maryland, New York and Washington, are in the process of following California’s regulatory example.

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