WASHINGTON, DC — In what officials are calling a major step in combating global climate change, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has issued a final rule establishing a program to cap and phase down domestic production and consumption of climate-damaging hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), highly potent greenhouse gases commonly used in refrigerators and air conditioners.
The landmark program, announced today, will phase down the U.S. production and consumption of HFCs by 85% over the next 15 years, as mandated by the American Innovation and Manufacturing (AIM) Act, enacted in December 2020 as part of an effort designed to slow global warming, EPA officials said. HFCs are potent greenhouse gases commonly used in refrigeration and air conditioning equipment, as well as foams and other applications.
The bipartisan AIM Act, backed by a coalition of industry and environmental groups, not only phases down HFCs, but also ushers in the use of more climate friendly and energy-efficient alternatives aimed at saving consumers money while protecting the environment, according to the EPA.
“Today, EPA is taking a significant step forward to tackle the climate crisis,” said EPA Administrator Michael Regan. “Cutting these climate ‘super pollutants’ protects our environment, strengthens our economy, and demonstrates that America is back when it comes to leading the world in addressing climate change and curbing global warming in the years ahead.”
“American companies are at the forefront of developing HFC alternatives and the technologies that use them, and the AIM Act provides these companies additional opportunities to continue to innovate,” Regan added.
EPA estimates that the cumulative net benefit of its action will amount to more than $272 billion from 2022 through 2050, and that the rule will yield cumulative compliance savings for industry. In 2036 alone, the year the final reduction step is made, the rule is expected to prevent emissions of the equivalent of 171 million metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) – roughly equal to the annual greenhouse gas emissions from one out of every seven passenger vehicles registered in the U.S., the EPA said. The total emission reductions of the rule from 2022 to 2050 are projected to amount to the equivalent of 4.6 billion metric tons of CO2 – nearly equal to three years of U.S. power sector emissions at 2019 levels.
EPA officials said the agency will work with the U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security to prevent the illegal import and trade of HFCs through an interagency task force led by personnel from U.S. Customs and Border Protection, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations and EPA.
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