A group of House and Senate Democrats is pressing EPA for quick action to curb use of potent greenhouse gases used in air conditioners, refrigerators, and other equipment.
Sen. Thomas Carper, D-Del., Rep. Scott Peters, D-Calif., and 14 colleagues wrote to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy urging her not to wait for completion of new international plans to address hydrofluorocarbons.
In September, the U.S., China, and other G-20 members vowed to work under the Montreal Protocol — a 1980s treaty initially struck to protect the ozone layer — to phase down production and use of HFCs.
But the Democrats say EPA can take action while that’s all being worked out.
“Recognizing that it may take some time to amend the Montreal Protocol and incorporate those changes into U.S. regulations, we believe the EPA does not need to wait to implement smart policies that can help accelerate these transitions in the United States and globally,” the lawmakers’ letter states.
The Montreal Protocol led to the phasing down of chemicals that were depleting the ozone layer. But one side effect was to increase the use of HFCs in their place, and the letter notes that use is slated to quickly rise worldwide.
“The increased HFC use is good for the ozone layer, but evidently not good for our climate. Unfortunately, it is now determined that HFC compounds can have a very high global-warming potential,” the lawmakers write, adding that left unchecked, HFCs could account for 20 percent of greenhouse-gas pollution by 2050.