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A woman stands in front of a refrigerator.

The Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday ordered strict new limits on the use of hydrofluorocarbons, which heat the planet far faster than carbon dioxide and are used in refrigerators and air conditioners. (Photo: PeopleImages/Getty Images)

In 'Landmark' Decision, EPA Finalizes Rule Cutting Use of Super-Pollutant HFCs

The regulation will drastically curb the use of "the most potent super-pollutants known to mankind at the moment," one climate campaigner said.

Julia Conley

The Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday finalized a rule long pushed for by climate campaigners that slashes the use of chemicals identified as "super-pollutants" that are commonly used in air conditioners and refrigerators.

"I applaud President Biden's actions to cut down these super-pollutants while strengthening our ability to compete in a global clean energy market."
—Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.)

 
The Biden administration announced a new rule requiring the use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) be cut by 85% over the next 15 years, implementing a measure in the American Innovation and Manufacturing Act, which was passed by Congress last year.
 
"Today EPA is taking a significant step forward to advance President Biden's bold agenda to tackle the climate crisis," said EPA Administrator Michael S. 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."
 
The rule was applauded by lawmakers, advocates, and climate scientists who noted the far-reaching effects that a reduction in HFCs will have on the health of the planet.
 
 
Gretchen Goldman of the White House Office of Science & Technology Policy, who was formerly a research director at the Union of Concerned Scientists, called the rule "an important step to tackle climate emissions."
 
HFCs, which frequently leak from appliances, heat the atmosphere at a rate hundreds of thousands of times faster than carbon dioxide and are used widely in grocery stores across the country. Undercover investigators with the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) found earlier this year that HFC leaks existed in the freezers and refrigerators of 55% of supermarkets it surveyed in the Washington, D.C. area.
 
Avipsa Mahapatra, a climate campaign leader at the EIA, called the administration's decision "a landmark EPA rulemaking" which would help drastically curb the use of "the most potent super-pollutants known to mankind at the moment."
 
The reduction in HFCs resulting from the rule is expected to be the equivalent of 4.5 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide and will generate about $272 billion in cost savings and public health benefits over the next three decades, according to the White House. The regulation is also expected to promote job creation as companies manufacture alternative cooling mechanisms.
 
Next month, the EPA is also expected to respond to 13 petitions filed under the American Innovation and Manufacturing Act, by groups that want to limit the use of HFCs in dehumidifiers and other appliances.
 
Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), a co-author of the Green New Deal legislation, applauded the EPA's new rule and expressed hope that the Biden administration and Congress will "continue to push for the ambitious solutions we need to combat the climate crisis by passing the budget reconciliation bill."
 
"HFCs are superheating our planet, exacerbating extreme weather events, and threatening the physical and economic health of our communities," said Markey. "I applaud President Biden's actions to cut down these super-pollutants while strengthening our ability to compete in a global clean energy market."

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