Obama-Era Climate Reg Could Drive People To Purchase Flammable Refrigerants

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Chris White Tech Reporter
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Manufacturers are raising alarms about a new flammable refrigerant the air conditioning industry is producing to replace refrigerants the Obama administration deemed risky to the climate.

Most air conditioners installed after 2010 use refrigerants that safely protect the ozone layer and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. There’s only one problem? The new refrigerant contains moderately flammable products that could risk the lives of air conditioner installers.

“We have been concerned for contractor and consumer safety with the risk of slightly flammable refrigerants leaking into people’s homes,” Don Prather, a manager with the lobby group Air Conditioning Contractors of America ,told reporters Monday. “There are so many contractors out there doing a poor job of installing the equipment, which creates an opportunity for more leaks.”

The new refrigerants protect the ozone layer and reduces greenhouse gasses. Political leaders, including members of the Obama administration, came together last October to transition manufacturers from refrigerants that emit greenhouse gases toward the third kind that are safe for both the ozone layer and climate change.

Manufacturers are complaining that the transition caught them off-guard. They were expecting to produce products that focused on reducing damage to the ozone layer.

“We didn’t anticipate having to go through a transition again as quickly as we have,” Francis Dietz, a vice president at The Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute, told reporters Monday. “At the time, we were not thinking about climate change all. That was not the issue. The issue was ozone depletion.”

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.

Massive conglomerates Honeywell and Chemours are defending the rule, claiming it is one of the few climate regulations from the Obama administration that President Donald Trump has not yet targeted.

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