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US Congress faces further pressure for federal HFC phasedown

Democratic and Republican representatives have unveiled a bill to push the cooling industry to alternative refrigerants just a few months after similar proposals were unveiled for the Senate

Legislation that seeks to phase out HFC use in favour of alternative refrigerants has been proposed by a bipartisan group of politicians serving in the US House of Representatives.

This marks the second bill focused on reducing HFC use nationally that has been proposed to congress over the last four months.

The country’s Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI) said it welcomed efforts to introduce the American Innovation and Manufacturing Leadership Act, HR 5544, into the lower house of congress. A hearing for the proposal, which introduces a clear timeline to move to lower GWP refrigerant, has already been scheduled.

Representatives from both major parties have leant support for the new legislation to curb reliance in the cooling sector of HFCs and boost the US’ manufacturing capabilities for next generation refrigerant that can reduce greenhouse gas and other emissions linked to climate change.

Democratic representatives Paul Tonko and Scott Peters and Republican representatives Pete Olson and Elise Stefanik have argued that the proposed legislation would also create tens of thousands of additional jobs across the country.

Support for the bill comes on the back of separate bipartisan efforts from two US senators late last year to introduce a national phasedown of HFCs to drive a shift to refrigerants with lower GWP under the title of the American Innovation and Manufacturing Act (S.2457).

The bill, introduced by Democratic senator Tom Carper and his Republican counterpart John Kennedy, was announced as a means to authorise the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to establish targets for curbing industry reliance on HFCs.

Both pieces of legislation are described by the AHRI as being similar in providing the same federal regulatory framework to curb HC use nationally

Although the bills differ slightly in structure and organization, both would produce the same Federal regulatory framework to phase down HFCs.

Stephen Yurek, president of the AHRI, said that the proposal of a second bill focused on cutting HFC reliance within a few months of each other would bring the US closer to a national phasedown.

He said, “Both the House and the Senate bills will accomplish our industry’s refrigerant objective while also protecting consumers and providing significant economic and environmental benefits.”

Both bills serve as a clear attempt to push for the reintroduction of a national commitment to phase down use of HFCS in refrigerant  A previous HFC reduction stance in the US Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP) was dropped by the DC Circuit Court. This decision was 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 reduce HFC emissions.

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