WASHINGTON (AP) – In Biden’s first administrative rule to tackle climate change, the Environmental Protection Agency proposes to gradually reduce the production and use of hydrofluorocarbons, greenhouse gases. Very powerful greenhouse commonly used in refrigerators and air conditioners.
The proposed rule follows a law passed by Congress in December allowing the phase-out of HFCs over 15 years. The new rule aims to reduce the production and use of gas in the United States by 85% over the next 15 years, as part of a global phase-out intended to slow climate change.
HFCs are considered a major driver of global warming and are targeted around the world. President Joe Biden has pledged to pass a 2016 global deal to reduce them.
“With this proposal, the EPA takes another important step on President Biden’s ambitious agenda to address the climate crisis,” Administrator Michael Regan said in a statement on Monday. “By phasing out HFCs, which can be hundreds to thousands of times more powerful than carbon dioxide in warming the planet, the EPA is taking a major step to help control the rise in global temperature.”
The phase-out of HFCs is widely supported by the business community, said Regan, and “will help promote US leadership in innovation and manufacturing new climate-friendly products. Simply put, this action is good for our planet and our economy. “
A massive pandemic relief and spending bill, passed by Congress in December and signed by former President Donald Trump, orders the EPA to dramatically reduce the production and use of HFCs. The measure won broad support from both sides and has been hailed as the most important climate change law in at least a decade.
In addition to targeting HFCs, the so-called American Innovation and Manufacturing, or AIM Act, also promotes technologies for capturing and storing carbon dioxide produced by power plants and manufacturing plants and calls for reducing emissions of diesel buses and other vehicles.
Delaware Senator Tom Carper, a Democrat who chairs the Senate Committee on the Environment and Public Works, praised the EPA rule and said the United States is joining the rest of the world in reducing use HFCs, thus helping to avoid the worst effects of global warming.
“Passing the AIM Act was a momentous climate achievement that will help save our planet, and today we are one step closer to the reality of its benefits,” Carper said in a statement.
Carper and Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., Have pushed for the HFC proposal, which they say would give US companies the regulatory certainty needed to produce “next-generation” coolants as an alternative to HFCs. The two men represent states that are home to chemical companies that produce the alternative refrigerants.
The supply of HFCs was supported by an unusual coalition that included large environmental and business groups, including the National Manufacturers Association, the American Chemistry Council, and the Air-Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Institute, which represents the companies. who manufacture residential and commercial air conditioners, water heaters and commercial refrigeration equipment.
The industry has long been moving towards the use of alternative refrigerants and was pushing for a federal standard to avoid a patchwork of national laws and regulations.
EPA’s proposal “will significantly reduce a major source of greenhouse gas emissions while creating new manufacturing jobs and increasing our country’s share of the global air conditioning and refrigeration products market. American Chemistry Council president Chris Jahn said in a statement. The board represents large companies such as Honeywell, Chemours and Arkema.
These companies and others have developed efficient alternatives to HFCs for air conditioning and refrigeration, the group said.
David Doniger, a senior climate and clean energy official at the Natural Resources Defense Council, said the EPA rule will bring “enormous public health and climate benefits to all Americans.”
Replacing HFCs with safer, commercially available alternatives “is a critical and fully feasible first step to avert the worst of the climate crisis … which will save industry money on the market. “said Doniger.
The EPA estimates that the proposed rule would save nearly $ 284 billion over the next three decades and prevent the equivalent of 187 million metric tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions, or roughly l equivalent to the annual greenhouse gas emissions of one in seven vehicles registered in the United States.
Biden issued an executive order in January that encompasses the 2016 Kigali Amendment to the 1987 Montreal Protocol on ozone pollution. The amendment calls on the United States and other major industrialized countries to reduce HFCs by 85% by 2036. Biden’s order directs the State Department to prepare documents for submission of the amendment to the Senate for formal ratification.
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