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AHRI presses for fresh US-wide legislation to curb HFC use

High profile companies have written to key US government oversight bodies to call for legislation that would see introduction of national commitments to end HFC use in refrigeration

Several dozen members of the US Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI) are pushing for fresh federal legislation that would re-establish work to phase down the use of HFCs at a national level.

A total of 32 member companies in the AHRI have partnered with the Alliance for Responsible Atmospheric Policy to write an open letter to the heads of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee for a fresh commitment to curbing HFCs.

Francis Dietz, the institute’s vice president of public affairs, said the letter was intended to push for the reintroduction of a national commitment to phase down use of these gases in refrigerant. A previous HFC reduction stance in the Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP) was dropped by the DC Circuit Court and then later upheld by the US Supreme court.

SNAP, which seeks to restrict emissions of ozone depleting substances and replace them with safer alternatives, was initially amended under the presidency of Barack Obama to try and reduce emissions of HFCs in refrigerant.

Mr Dietz said that proposals for fresh legislation were expected to overcome the previous barriers to trying to curb HFCs.

He said, “The DC Circuit Court decision was based on the essential premise that Congress had not provided authority to the EPA to regulate HFCs under the SNAP program. With legislation, EPA would be given that authority, so it could resume using the SNAP program to implement a national phase down of HFCs.”

Mr Dietz said that a key driver for introducing a law requiring a national phase down schedule was to move away from the current patchwork of legislation that differs from state-to-state and even city-to-city. 

He said, “It remains to be seen whether states and cities would simply adopt a federal approach (should it become law) in their own regulations, but we are hopeful that they would.”

The open letter sent to the government has argued that manufacturers in the US have already been preparing for a transition away from HFC use for over a decade as represented by billions of dollars in investment for alternative fluorocarbon products and equipment.

It stated, “American companies have led the world in fluorocarbon technology development for decades, but that leadership – and the advantages it confers to the US economy – is jeopardized by the lack of a Federal policy for HFCs. In the wake of US inaction, foreign competitors are poised to fill the technology void and displace American companies in a global fluorocarbon market expected to reach US$1tn in size.”

The letter also noted that the push to end HFC use was in line with the requirements of the Montreal Protocol that the US had helped develop under the presidency of Ronald Reagan.

It said, “A recent industry economic study showed that a new federal standard for the phasedown of HFCs would create 33,000 new U.S. manufacturing jobs, add US$12.5 billion per year to the US economy, and expand US exports in this sector by 25 percent. Failure to do so will cost US businesses and jobs. “

“On behalf of the 1.3 million Americans currently employed in the overall heating, ventilation, air-conditioning, and refrigeration industry, we urge your support for action on proposed Federal legislation to phase down HFCs.”

Signatories of the letter include senior representatives for manufacturers such as Daikin, Carrier and Chemours, as well as Trane Commercial and Johnson Controls.

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