OPINION: The Competitive Enterprise Institute Gets Environmental Amendment Dead Wrong

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Paul Nagy Contributor
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Over the past several decades, the think tank world in Washington has led the conservative movement down a path in which it is essentially the president of the local debate society but has precious little impact on public policy outcomes that affect the lives of real Americans. 

Recent criticisms of the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol by the Competitive Enterprise Institute demonstrate this clearly. In addition, these criticisms make plain that the same think tank culture has yet to grapple with the ascent of President Trump and all he represents.

The Kigali Amendment is a relatively obscure proposal, but one that would have a significant and positive impact on American manufacturers and their employees.

In the next decade, one billion air-conditioners will be installed around the world, making it a good time to be in the air conditioning business. America has been the global AC leader since American innovation first brought it to market in 1902. The Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration industry — or HVACR — is a domestic powerhouse. It is responsible for over 2.5 million American jobs, almost 700,000 manufacturing jobs, and $621 billion of economic output per year. 

Kigali initiates a phase down of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) in air conditioning systems and replaces them with new coolants. As it happens, American manufacturers hold the patents on the bulk of those new products. By signing onto Kigali, America will remain the global leader in the industry.

Despite the undeniable advantages Kigali provides to American manufacturers, it deals with a climate-related issue, so the folks at CEI have adjusted their spectacles and straightened their bow ties and have begun to lecture American workers on how terrible it is.  

CEI argues that China gets more lenient treatment under Kigali. While it’s true that China will be permitted to continue producing HFCs under Kigali, as he states, they will not be permitted to sell these products in the U.S if we sign on Kigali. It’s irrelevant how many HFCs China will be permitted to make, let alone for how long, if it’s illegal to sell them. 

Kigali will have a positive impact on U.S. manufacturing and the U.S. economy. A recent study conducted by Inforum and JMS Consulting titled, “Economic Impacts of U.S. Ratification of the Kigali Amendment,” shows is will have a net positive impact on America’s trade imbalance of more than $12.5 billion by 2027.

But China cheats, they argue in their second point. Well, duh. Of course China cheats. They’ve already gotten pinched for dumping cheap coolants into the U.S. market. But that was under a different president. If nothing else, President Trump has shown he will not stand by as China cheats its way to global economic dominance.  The truth is, Kigali stops Chinese cheating. This is a principal reason why the economic impact study cited above found that ratification would lead to $6.5 billion in reduced imports.  

CEI’s third point is their most onerous and sloppy. They claim U.S. companies like Honeywell and Chemours will just manufacture new products in China anyway. Wrong. So wrong, in fact, that their supporting documentation for this fake news states, “On the fluoroproducts side, Chemours plans to shift most production of its Opteon hydrofluoroolefin (HFO) refrigerant to its new plant in Corpus Christi, Texas, US.”  That story went on to quote Chemours’ CEO saying that the company “will shift most of our production to Corpus Christi as soon as possible.” 

Overall, American companies have invested more than $1 billion in research, development, and expanded domestic production of next generation coolants.  What’s more, Kigali has the support of virtually the entire U.S. business community, large and small.

Donald Trump is a master negotiator whose stated goal as president of the United States is to reconfigure global agreements to benefit America. He isn’t an ideologue. He isn’t concerned with legacy disputes between competing think tanks in Washington. And he’s tired of deals that meet some precious standard for “free market” purity but hurt American workers.  These are some of the reasons people like me, regular working Americans, flocked to his campaign early and stuck with him when the establishment tried to take him down.

I trust that President Trump will send the Kigali Amendment to the Senate for ratification on its merits, where it will be well received by Republicans and Democrats alike. 

Paul Nagy (SouthTrentonGuy) has worked as a conservative activist in New Hampshire for over 30 years. He is the founder and chairman of Americans for Secure Borders, and worked previously as northeast campaign director for Pat Buchanan’s 1992 presidential campaign and as the northeast regional director for the National Christian Coalition.

The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.