EPA reaches settlement with Resonac America for illegal import of super climate pollutant at Port of Los Angeles

On March 21, 2024, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced a settlement with Resonac America Inc. to address the company’s illegal import of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) at the Port of Los Angeles on four occasions in 2023 and 2024. Resonac America, which is a subsidiary of the Tokyo-based Resonac Corporation, will pay a penalty of $416,003 and destroy 1,693 pounds of HFCs to resolve EPA’s allegations of violations.

EPA continues to prioritize enforcement against companies that illegally import refrigerants that damage our climate and imperil future generations,” said David M. Uhlmann, Assistant Administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “This case is the largest penalty imposed to date for importing super-polluting HFCs as part of EPA’s National Enforcement and Compliance Initiative on Mitigating Climate Change—and the first to require the company to destroy the HFCs.” 

HFCs are a powerful climate pollutant, so it’s imperative that companies importing them into our nation do so in strict accordance with environmental laws,” said EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator Martha Guzman. “This is the latest in a series of EPA HFC enforcement efforts nationwide, which send a clear message that the federal government is vigilantly monitoring imports of HFCs and will hold illegal actors accountable.

On three separate occasions – in October, November and December 2023 – Resonac America imported a total of 6,208 pounds of illegal HFCs into the United States at the Port of Los Angeles. These imports violated the prohibition on importing bulk regulated substances into the United States without possessing sufficient consumption or application-specific allowances at the time of import. Resonac America also failed to give EPA the required notice of planned shipments of HFCs for the 2023 shipments and a February 2024 shipment, as well as failed to timely submit reports to the EPA with information on HFCs that the company imported in the first and second quarters of 2023.

Resonac America imported HFC-23 which is a potent greenhouse gas with a 100-year global warming potential of 14,800. This enforcement action prevented approximately 6,208 pounds, or 2.816 metric tons, of illegal HFCs from being imported into the U.S. If released into the atmosphere, these HFCs are the equivalent of 41,676.8 metric tons of CO2, or the same amount of CO2 produced from powering 8,225 homes with electricity for a year.

HFCs are a super climate pollutant with global warming potentials hundreds to thousands of times higher than CO2. For this reason, pursuant to the Montreal Protocol and its Kigali Amendment, production and imports of HFCs are being phased down 85% from historical levels by developed countries by 2036. EPA has made it a national enforcement and compliance priority to address the illegal import of HFCs under the current phasedown and has settled numerous cases over the last several months with companies regarding HFC imports.

The Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol, adopted in 2016, is a global agreement to phase down HFCs by 2036 for the United States and other developed countries, and is expected to avoid up to 0.5°C of global warming by 2100.

In response to the Kigali Amendment, Congress passed the bipartisan American Innovation and Manufacturing Act of 2020 (AIM Act), requiring the United States to phase down HFC production and consumption by 85% by 2036. Since January 2022, EPA and CBP have denied entry to approximately 81 shipments of illegal HFCs. Under EPA’s HFC phasedown regulations, importers must expend allowances to import HFCs. Illegal imports of HFCs undermine the phasedown, disadvantage companies who follow the rules, and contribute to global warming.