Major Air Conditioning Companies Push Trump To Keep Climate Regs Targeting Refrigerants

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Chris White Tech Reporter
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Two of the country’s largest air conditioning companies are lobbying the Trump administration to defend Obama-era regulations on refrigerants that reportedly contribute to greenhouse gasses, according to industry officials.

Massive conglomerates Honeywell and Chemours are defending a rule that phases out greenhouse gases emitted from refrigerants in appliances like air conditioners and refrigerators. The rule is one of the few climate regulations from the Obama administration that President Donald Trump has not yet targeted.

Former President Barack Obama led world leaders in 2016 to amend the Montreal Protocol to phase down emissions from hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs. The rule was initially crafted 30 years ago to fix the hole in the Earth’s ozone layer, but the Kigali amendment expanded the mission to include reducing greenhouse gasses.

Industry officials say Trump should draw a distinction between the Paris climate agreement, a non-binding international climate treaty the president nixed earlier this year, and the Kigali amendment.

Trump made reversing his predecessor’s climate regulations a focal point of his presidential campaign. The president has already signed a slew of executive orders repealing climate regulations he believes could potentially hurt American business and waste taxpayer money.

However, the president has mostly left the Kigali rule alone. Companies like Honeywell and Chemours want to keep it because they supposedly do not want to see millions of dollars of investments in technology eliminating HFCs squandered.

“We are very quick to distinguish the Montreal Protocol from the Paris climate deal,” said Kevin Fay, executive director of the Alliance for Responsible Atmospheric Policy, an industry trade group that represents Honeywell among other conglomerates.

Fay has lobbied for the change on Honeywell’s behalf. He tells Republican policy makers that the regulation is important because former President Ronald Reagan initially signed the Montreal Protocol in 1988. “It’s Reagan-era environmental policy done right,” Fay told reporters Monday.

Some conservatives believe the the amendment has spurred innovation that have helped create jobs. Steve Forbes, a media mogul and Editor-in-Chief at Forbes Magazine, for one, suggested earlier this month that the changes are one of the few times government regulations help industry.

“HFOs are set to replace HFCs worldwide, earning American companies and workers a global marketplace advantage in exporting this new technology,” Forbes wrote an oped, referring to the technologies that are replacing HFCs. Free market policy analysts are not buying Forbes’ treatment.

One analyst at the Caesar Rodney Institute told The Daily Caller News Foundation that the rule Reagan signed is not the one that exists today. Obama expanded the rule to include targeting global warming, requiring very expensive changes in the refrigerant market that most companies cannot afford.

“Bottom line, a series of regulations with essentially no impact on global warming will cost billions to end users and provide an unfair competitive advantage for two companies who are welcome to compete on a level playing field,” said David Stevenson, who directs energy issues at CRI. He was referring to Honeywell and Chemours.

Obama’s EPA vastly underestimated the costs of administering the rules, according to Stevenson. The agency stated the rule would cost $100 million, but the amendment would reduce greenhouse gasses by only 1 percent while costing about $177 million a year, according to a study CRI conducted last year.

The transition costs will top $1.5 billion just for the automotive air conditioning industry. Added refrigerant costs could add another $1 to $1.5 billion a year just for the automotive sector, the study noted.

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