EPA implements a broad range of voluntary initiatives to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases, including programs with each of the three major industries which use or emit the most potent gases: aluminum (perfluorocarbons (PFCs)), semiconductors (PFCs, SF6, and hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs)), and electric power systems (SF6). Participants in these programs value the flexibility and benefits voluntary programs offer: cost-effective pollution prevention, technological innovation and information sharing, quick implementation, and positive company recognition.
The EPA SF6 Emission Reduction Partnership for the Magnesium Industry will work with the magnesium industry to pursue technically and economically feasible actions aimed at minimizing SF6 emissions and reducing the threat of global climate change.
Opportunities for the Magnesium Industry
In 1999, global sales of SF6 to the magnesium industry, excluding Russia and China, were approximately 170 metric tons (See Smythe, 2000 (PDF) (8 pp, 67K, About PDF)). The SF6 Emission Reduction Partnership for the Magnesium Industry will not only benefit the environment, but also the bottom-line. This cost saving opportunity, combined with the environmental concerns, has prompted many in the industry to take steps to reduce emissions. EPA’s voluntary program is intended to compliment and build upon those actions, creating a valuable opportunity for industry and EPA to work together to achieve common goals.
Magnesium companies that join the partnership sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), which details the roles of both EPA and the Partner to reduce emissions. Development of the MOU evolved out of meetings and dialogue between the magnesium industry, the International Magnesium Association (IMA) and EPA.
Under the agreement, EPA’s responsibilities include: acting as a clearinghouse for technical information on successful strategies to reduce SF6 emissions; providing partners with recognition for their achievements in reducing SF6 emissions; and working to obtain commitments from all magnesium companies to join the partnership. Partners agree to, where possible: estimate SF6 use and usage rate during a starting year between 1990 and 1999; annually inventory SF6 use and usage rate using one of the emissions inventory protocol developed by the partnership; and share with EPA and other Partners non-confidential information about successful SF6 emission reduction processes and technologies.
The tracking and reporting scheme implemented under the SF6 Partnership will help partners avoid contributing to the atmospheric build-up of long-lived chemicals, and enable companies to document early contribution to the prevention of global climate change.
Questions and Answers on the MOU
- Can a Partner pick and choose which provisions of the MOU it will accept and carry out?
In order to maintain consistency and fairness among program participants, the MOU language cannot be changed. Partners may, contingent upon EPA’s concurrence, add new elements to their MOU as long as those new elements do not conflict with the language already in the MOU and serve to support the goal of SF6 Emission Reduction.
- Can the Partner’s commitment under the MOU change to reflect changing circumstances?
Partners may accommodate changing circumstances by updating the commitments it makes to implement the MOU. For example, partners establish an emissions reduction goal within 18 months of signing the MOU. Partners may alter their goal if circumstances make change necessary.
- Why do partners estimate emissions for a starting year between 1990 and 1999?
The initial estimate of emissions is a starting point for tracking the partner’s subsequent progress in reducing emissions. For example, if the partner reports that in 1996 its usage rate was 2.5 kg of SF6/tonne of magnesium processed, and during its first reporting year, e.g., 1999, the usage rate was 2 kg/tonne, then having the 1996 number would enable EPA and the partner to measure progress over time. In this case, the partner will have achieved a 20% reduction in emissions compared to the starting year 1996. Partners may estimate emissions for the intervening years between the chosen starting year (i.e., 1996) and the first reporting year (i.e. 1999), but are not required to do so.
- Will Partners have input into the evolution of the Partnership?
Yes. EPA will rely on its partners to help chart the course for the Partnership. For example, EPA will rely on the partners to help determine if there are any specific projects (e.g., research projects) that EPA could undertake, contingent on funding, which would further the goal of emissions reduction.
- Who should sign the MOU for the company?
The signatory for the partner should be the person who has the authority to commit the company to the terms of the MOU. The partner representative is the person with responsibility for overseeing the implementation of the Partnership within the company and for communicating with EPA. The Partner representative does not have to be, and most likely will not be, the same person as the signatory.