NEWS UPDATE: 3/7/2007 The California Air Resources Board (CARB) has proposed banning the sale of R134a refrigerant to motorists.
The California Air Resources Board (CARB) has proposed a law to ban the sale of 134a refrigerant to consumers, including small 12 oz. cans as well as larger containers, potentially impacting the ability of California motorists to work on their own cars. If enacted, Californians would no longer be permitted to purchase cans of auto refrigerant, leaving them with no option but to go to a repair facility for assistance, according to a group opposing the proposed ban.
A coalition called Stay Cool California has formed to help fight the proposed law. The group says the ban targets the very people who can least afford to have this service performed at a repair shop and places an economic burden upwards of $167 million on fixed and lower income Californians.
"Instead of going after oil companies and utilities that emit millions of tons of greenhouse gases, the California Air Resources Board is aiming its regulatory guns on consumers who prefer to work on their own cars," stated Tom Brown, a coalition spokesperson. "What costs consumers $10 today for a can of auto refrigerant, will cost them $150 or more tomorrow if CARB gets their way. That's just not fair for those people who cannot afford to take their car to a repair shop to have this very simple and necessary service done."
"We understand the need to reduce global warming in California and the members of our coalition are committed to doing this. But targeting low and fixed income Californians is no way to reduce global warming and is unfair and discriminatory. CARB should be going after sources where more substantial greenhouse gas emissions can be achieved at much lower cost to the citizens of California real greenhouse gas emissions reductions," Brown added.
Currently, the only other state to restrict or ban the sale of R134a is Wisconsin, who prohibits the sale of all refrigerants (R12, R22, R134a and all other alternative refrigerants)in containers of less than 25 pounds, (section 100.45 Wis. Stats. and Chapter ATCP 136 Wis. Adm. Code). R134a can be purchased in large bulk containers, but only by certified professional automotive technicians, or businesses registered with the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection or the Wisconsin Department of Commerce for servicing air conditioning and refrigeration systems.
The California Air Resources Board (CARB) voted not to ban the sale of R134a automotive refrigerant to do-it-yourselfers. Motorist will still be able to buy R134a in retail auto parts stores for topping off and recharging their automotive air conditioning systems. However, CARB did adopt new regulations that pertain to the cans the refrigerant comes in, how the cans are labeled, how cans are sold (a deposit is now required), and requirements for consumer education regarding the environmental hazards of R134a.
The new California regulations require the following:
Starting January 1, 2011, all small cans (less than 2 lbs.) of R134a that are sold must meet CARB certification requirements (self-sealing top and proper labeling).
It is illegal to dispose of unused cans of R134a or cans that still contain residual refrigerant. Such cans must be returned to the retailer, distributor or manufacturer for proper disposal.
A deposit of $10 is required at the time of purchase. The deposit will be refunded when the customer returns the empty undamaged can within 90 days of purchase (with proof of purchase).
Stores selling R134a refrigerant must display a sign describing the environmental hazards of R134a, and provide consumer education brochures describing the proper use of R134a (such as no venting into the atmosphere). The signs and brochures must be printed in both English and Spanish.
Currently, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has no regulations banning the sale of R134a refrigerant to consumers. But it does have regulations that ban the sale of R12 and other refrigerants to consumers. For the latest regulations, go to: EPA Refrigerant Sales Regulations