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EPA Amends Methyl Bromide Phase-Out for 2005 Critical Uses

Release Date: 12/16/2004
Contact Information:


Contact: John Millett 202-564-7842 / millett.john@epa.gov

(12/16/04) EPA is amending regulations governing the phase-out and allocation of the ozone-depleting fumigant, methyl bromide (MeBr). Today’s action amends the MeBr phase-out regulations to allow for an exemption for new production and import to meet the needs of remaining critical uses, for which there are currently no technically and economically feasible alternatives. The amendment will make approximately 35 percent of the United State’s baseline available for critical uses in 2005. This 35 percent is 8,942 metric tonnes of the 25,528 metric tonnes used in 1991 and established by international treaty as the U.S. baseline by which reductions are measured.

This action implements existing authority contained in the Clean Air Act and reflects decisions made pursuant to the Montreal Protocol, the international treaty to protect the stratospheric ozone layer.

The Montreal Protocol established 1991 production and consumption levels of MeBr as the baselines to measure reduction of the chemical. Since the early 1990s, apart from allowable exemptions, the United States has phased out its production and consumption of MeBr and has remained within the cap set by the treaty. Since the inception of the Protocol, the United States has phased out over 95 percent of its consumption of ozone depleting substances.

Methyl Bromide has been used in a wide variety of agricultural and commodity applications. Examples of MeBr uses include growing strawberries, tomatoes and fumigating flour mills across the United States. The critical use exemption (CUE) process was established to provide relief to users of MeBr who do not have any technically and economically feasible alternatives. Under the current structure of the Montreal Protocol, each year EPA will promulgate a rule to cover the amount of MeBr to be made available for critical use in the future. MeBr allocations and use are strictly regulated and monitored by EPA.

The United States is committed to phasing out methyl bromide as recently registered alternative chemicals and those under development and regulatory review penetrate the marketplace and the use of currently available alternatives are optimized. Today’s action continues that process while providing access to MeBr consistent with the Clean Air Act and the Montreal Protocol.

In March 2004, the Parties to the Montreal Protocol granted the United States approximately 90 percent of its CUE request for 2005 which amounted to approximately 35 percent of the U.S. baseline. In 2005, the Agency will propose an additional portion of the baseline that was authorized for 2005 critical uses during the 16th Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer in Prague, Czech Republic, Nov. 26, 2004.

For more information on this action and MeBr regulation visit: http://www.epa.gov/ozone/mbr/ .