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Industry answers HFC phase down fears

USA: A House of Representatives bill seeking a phase down of HFC refrigerants has raised concerns about costs to the consumer as well as uncertainties on safety issues.

The issues surrounding the introduction of the American Innovation and Manufacturing Leadership Act (HR 5544), a bipartisan bill introduced last week, were discussed at a Climate Change Subcommittee meeting at the US House of Representatives on Tuesday.

This proposed new bipartisan bill mirrors a similar bill introduced in the Senate at the end of October. 

In the face of the seeming reticence of President Trump to back the Kigali Amendment, both bills seek to authorise the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate HFCs in line with the global agreement.

Representatives of the air conditioning and refrigeration industry joined the environmental group NRDC at the meeting to give evidence in support of the bill.

Opposition to HR 5544 was led by Oklahoma Republican congressman Markwayne Mullin. Amongst other concerns, he questioned the need for a phase down and expressed concerns that the consumer – who he insisted would ultimately carry the burden of increased costs – was being left out of the consultation. 

While Mullin, the owner of a plumbing business, clearly had more knowledge of the subject than most of his fellow congressmen, his main concern focused on air conditioning and the likely move to a “mildly flammable” refrigerant. 

Amongst those countering the opposition voices, Michigan Democrat Debbie Dingell described the bill as “very important legislation”, emphasising its importance in keeping the US “at the forefront of innovation”, strengthening the US economy and protecting consumers and industry at the same time.

Fielding the questions in the first half of the meeting was Cindy Newberg, director of the EPA’s Stratospheric Protection Division who explained how the EPA implements current US stratospheric protection programmes, as well as the technical aspects of the committee’s bill to address HFC phase down issue.

Industry input came from a panel of four expert “witnesses” which saw John Galyen, president of Danfoss North America and current chairman of the Air Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI) join Gary Bedard, president and COO Worldwide Refrigeration at Lennox International, representing the Alliance for Responsible Atmospheric Policy (ARAP) and David Doniger, senior strategic director of the environmental group the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC), in supporting the bill. They outnumbered the one dissenting witness – Ben Lieberman, a senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute specialising in environmental policy.

Related stories:

House bill backs Senate on US HFC refrigerant phase down8 January 2020
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. Read more…

US senators introduce bill to phase down HFCs – 31 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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