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House bill backs Senate on US HFC refrigerant phase down

USA: Democratic and Republican congressman have introduced legislation in the US House of Representatives which mirrors legislation from the Senate to phase down HFC refrigerants. 

The American Innovation and Manufacturing Leadership Act (HR 5544) was introduced last night  by New York Democrat and Environment and Climate Change subcommittee chairman Paul Tonko, Texas Republican Pete Olson, California Democrat Scott Peters and New York Republican Elise Stefanik. 

The legislation, which will be the subject of a legislative hearing next Tuesday (January 14), seeks to phase down the production and consumption of HFCs by 85% over 15 years. To do so, it directs the US Environmental Protection Agency to implement an allowance allocation and trading programme and seeks to establish standards governing the management of HFCs, including recovery and reclaim. It also authorises the EPA to establish schedules for specific sector bans and transitions to next-generation technologies.

“This bipartisan legislation is a win-win for Americans: it creates manufacturing jobs, positions American companies to lead a global transition to next-generation technologies and protects consumers by ensuring an orderly transition away from HFCs,” said Tonko. “There is a broad and powerful consensus among industry and environmental groups alike that America should lead that transition, and we look forward to examining this bipartisan legislation that would achieve exactly that.”

This new House bill follows a similar bill introduced in the Senate at the end of October which seeks to authorise the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate HFCs in line with the Kigali Amendment.

With President Trump so far failing to back Kigali, the ultimate goal of the legislation is to ensure a smooth phase down that doesn’t disrupt jobs and leave the US behind in an emerging global market.  

Like the companion bipartisan Senate bill (which currently has 32 co-sponsors drawn equally from both parties) the latest House legislation enjoys backing from both industry and environmental groups. These include the US Chamber of Commerce, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), the Air Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI) and the Alliance for Responsible Atmospheric Policy (ARAP). 

“This bill brings us one step closer to implementing an HFC phase down and reaping the substantial economic benefits associated with this transition in refrigerant technologies,” said AHRI president and CEO Stephen Yurek. “Both the House and the Senate bills will accomplish our industry’s refrigerant objective while also protecting consumers and providing significant economic and environmental benefits.”

“This important legislation signals the building momentum for American jobs, trade improvement, technology leadership, and environmental stewardship, through a uniform Federal programme for cost-effective HFC phase down,” said ARAP executive director Kevin Fay.

“More than 30 years ago, we united to restore the Earth’s protective ozone layer. Today a new, broad consensus is building to curb a potent driver of climate change, HFCs,” commented the NRDC’s senior strategic director David Doniger. “A rarely-seen alliance – industry, manufacturers, environmentalists and lawmakers – is backing bipartisan bills in the House, and the Senate to transition from HFCs to climate safe alternatives. This is good for our children and our planet.”

Related stories:

US senators introduce bill to phase down HFCs31 October 2019
USA: A bipartisan coalition of US senators has introduced legislation that would give the Environmental Protection Agency the authority to regulate HFCs in line with the Kigali Amendment. Read more…

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