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Carper, Barrasso, Kennedy announce agreement on HFCs amendment to energy bill

Delaware News Desk
Sen. Tom Carper, D-Delaware, top Democrat on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, along with Chairman John Barrasso, R- Wyoming, and Sen. John Kennedy, R-Louisiana, announced on Sept. 10 a bipartisan agreement on changes to an hydrofluorocarbons amendment to S. 2657, the American Energy Innovation Act.

Sen. Tom Carper, D-Delaware, top Democrat on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, along with Chairman John Barrasso, R- Wyoming, and Sen. John Kennedy, R-Louisiana, announced on Sept. 10 a bipartisan agreement on changes to an hydrofluorocarbons amendment to S. 2657, the American Energy Innovation Act.

Kennedy and Carper offered the amendment to the American Energy Innovation Act earlier this year. The revised amendment will authorize a 15-year phasedown of HFCs at a national level for the first time, administered by the Environmental Protection Agency. The amendment requires EPA to implement an 85% phase down of the production and consumption of HFCs, so they reach approximately 15% of their 2011-13 average annual levels by 2036. Under the agreement, the revised amendment will also:

— Ensure there are sufficient supplies of HFCs for six, Congressionally designated essential uses of HFCs that currently have no substitute chemicals, including defense sprays, medical inhalers, semiconductor manufacturing and mission-critical military uses;

— Preempt state and local governments from regulating HFCs for those Congressionally designated essential uses for five years, unless extended by EPA to a maximum of 10 years if there remains no substitute chemical for a use;

— Provide protection for consumers by ensuring that the EPA acceleration of the 15-year phasedown timeline cannot move faster than technological capacity;

— Maintain the 85% phase-down of HFCs, avoiding up to half a degree Celsius of global warming while creating an additional 150,000 direct and indirect U.S. jobs through the expansion of domestic manufacturing of HFC alternative technologies; and,

— Improve the trade imbalance in chemicals and equipment by $12.5 billion and increase manufacturing output by close to $39 billion over the next seven years.

“With this agreement, we now have a clear path in Congress to enact and implement a nationwide phasedown of hydrofluorocarbons, known as HFCs,” said Carper. “HFCs are the coolants and refrigerants that keep our homes cool and our groceries cold in the fridge. They can be found in almost every household in America — but they have a global warming effect thousands of times more potent than carbon dioxide. Fortunately, with the ingenuity and innovation of American industry, the next generation of climate-friendly HFC replacements are already being made in this country and sold throughout the world. It’s time we build on those investments and phase down these potent greenhouse gases out of our economy. With this bipartisan agreement, we can and we will. This amendment would spur billions of dollars of economic growth in domestic manufacturing and create tens of thousands of new jobs, all while helping our planet avoid half a degree Celsius in global warming. At a time when we could all use some good news, this is great news for our economy and our planet. Let’s get it done.”

Carper and Kennedy introduced legislation to phasedown the use of HFCs on Nov. 1, 2019. Currently the legislation has an additional 16 Democratic and 16 Republican senators cosponsoring the legislation, with 34 senators supporting in total. Earlier this year, Carper and Kennedy offered the legislation as an amendment to the American Energy Innovation Act on March 4 with 27 bipartisan senators as additional cosponsors.

Carper issued a statement March 9 on the American Energy Innovation Act after voting against the cloture motion, which failed by a vote of 47-44. The EPW Committee began an information-gathering process March 25 to hear feedback from different stakeholders on HFCs legislation.