WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Tom Carper (D-Del.), top Democrat on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee (EPW), along with Chairman John Barrasso (R- Wyo.) and Senator John Kennedy (R-La.) announced a bipartisan agreement on changes to a hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) amendment to S. 2657, American Energy Innovation Act.
Senators 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 Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The amendment requires EPA to implement an 85 percent phase down of the production and consumption of HFCs, so they reach approximately 15 percent of their 2011-2013 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 5 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 Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) acceleration of the 15-year phasedown timeline cannot move faster than technological capacity.
- Maintain the 85 percent 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. 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,” Senator Carper said. “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.”
“This agreement protects both American consumers and American businesses,” said Senator Barrasso. “We can have clean air without damaging our economy. These chemicals are in every home – from our refrigerators, to our cars, to our air conditioners. I insisted on changing this legislation so costs don’t skyrocket for American families. This agreement safeguards the critical uses of these chemicals when substitute chemicals do not work – including in bear spray that protects hikers and fire suppression systems on planes that protect travelers. Now, this legislation will help protect our air while keeping costs down for the American people. I want to thank Senators Kennedy and Carper for working with me and I look forward to advancing the legislation in the Senate.”
“American jobs are on the line, and we can protect them by keeping the United States competitive in global industry. To create thousands of jobs, save billions of dollars and safeguard the environment, we must invest in alternatives to HFCs, said Senator Kennedy. “I’m thankful that Chairman Barrasso and Sen. Carper are championing this plan to bring American manufacturing into the future—a plan that both business and environmental groups support.”
Senators Carper and Kennedy introduced legislation to phase down the use of HFCs on November 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, Senators Carper and Kennedy offered the legislation as an amendment to the American Energy Innovation Act on March 4, 2020, with 27 bipartisan Senators as additional cosponsors.
On March 9, 2020, Senator Carper issued a statement on the American Energy Innovation Act after voting against the cloture motion, which failed by a vote of 47-44.
On March 25, 2020, the EPW Committee began an information-gathering process to hear feedback from different stakeholders on HFCs legislation.