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Proposed Bill Gives EPA Power Over HFCs
Two U.S. senators have introduced a bipartisan bill to ensure that the Environmental Protection Agency has the authority to oversee the phasedown of HFCs in the U.S. in order to support the next-generation technologies.
U.S. Senators John Kennedy (R-La.) and Tom Carper (D-Del.) introduced the bill, the American Innovation and Manufacturing Act, last week with Senators Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) as co-sponsors.
The bill comes in response to the U.S. Court of Appeal decision stripping the EPA of the ability to require incumbent users of HFCs to replace them with climate-friendly refrigerants.
The bill is intended “to provide much-needed certainty for businesses in Louisiana and other states on the worldwide transition towards next-generation coolants,” said a statement by Kennedy. In particular, Honeywell operates a plant is Geismar, La., that makes HFOs, an HFC replacement that will experience a slowdown in the absence of HFC regulation.
But the bill would also benefit natural refrigerants as a replacement for HFCs.
“On the surface, this bill seems more complicated than high school chemistry, but really it’s pretty simple. It’s about jobs,” Sen. Kennedy says. “And it’s about protecting the investment by Louisiana companies in new technologies and pro- tecting Louisiana jobs.”
“Because other nations are already forging ahead on the HFC phase-down, it is important for the United States to maintain its leadership in the development of climate-friendlier alternatives and for American industry to seize the global economic opportunity in the market for alternative chemicals and products,” says David Doniger, senior strategic director for the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).”Your bill is a critical step in that direction.”
Senator Carper said that the bill helps the U.S. “meet its obligations under the amended Montreal Protocol – a true win-win.” The U.S. Senate, however, has not yet ratified the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol, which calls for a global phase-down of HFCs and has wide industry backing. The Trump Administration recently said it is mulling the economic impact of the Kigali Amendment as it decides whether to refer it to the Senate for ratification.
Moreover, if the Kigali Amendment is ratified, “there’s a provision [under Title 6] in the Clean Air Act that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has the authority to implement that amendment,” said Jeff Holmstead, partner, Bracewell LLP, a Houston-based law and government relations firm, at a recent Hudson Institute meeting.