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Cuomo to phase out toxic refrigerant

HFC's found to be a greenhouse gas

ALBANY, NY — The United States ratified the Montreal Protocol in 1988, and it was ultimately signed by nearly 200 countries. The protocol was an agreement that the countries would stop using chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) as refrigerants and in aerosol cans because they were creating a hole in the ozone layer of the atmosphere. After 30 years, the ozone layer is healing, but it turns out the replacement for CFCs, hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), are extremely potent greenhouse gases, and there is a move to eventually ban the use of HFCs globally as well.

An update to the Montreal Protocol, called the Kigali Amendment, was passed in 2016, which calls for a ban on HFCs, but it has not yet been ratified by the U.S. There is speculation that President Donald Trump will not be interested in signing on because under Trump, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has abandoned the Significant New Alternatives Policy, which was created to help find replacements for HFCs.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo in New York is not waiting for a commitment from Washington to act on the issue, and on September 10 announced that he is directing the New York State Department of Environmental Regulation to create regulations that would gradually phase out the use of HFCs in the state.

Cuomo said, “While the Trump administration denies climate change and rolls back efforts to protect our planet, New York is picking up the mantle of climate leadership and forging a path forward. We are taking action to begin the phase-out of the use of hydrofluorocarbons, and I encourage other states to join with New York and California to combat dangerous HFCs. In New York we believe denial is not a life strategy, and we will continue to fight climate change to protect our economy, our planet and our future.”

Environmental groups praised the move. David Doniger, senior strategic director in the Climate & Clean Energy program at the Natural Resources Defense Council, said, “Without a doubt, all comprehensive plans to combat dangerous climate change must include strong curbs on HFCs. Today’s move by New York State to phase down these super-polluting greenhouse gases is a crucial reaffirmation of its national leadership in that global fight. With leadership on HFCs, New York, California—and more states soon—are picking up the slack from the Trump EPA’s drive to put polluters first and the rest of us in harm’s way.”

The Nature Conservancy in New York issued a statement saying, “Phasing out the use of hydrofluorocarbons in New York takes dangerous pollutants off the market, furthering the state’s mission to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40% by 2030. The Nature Conservancy in New York applauds this important and bold move and urges other states to join New York, California, and Canada on taking action.”

The Kigali Amendment has support from some traditionally conservative groups such as the American Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers and Business Roundtable, who are members of the Alliance for Responsible Atmospheric Policy. A statement from the group says, “The Kigali Amendment gives American companies an advantage in technology, manufacturing, and investment which will lead to job creation. It will both strengthen America’s exports and weaken the market for imported products, while enabling U.S. technology to continue its world leadership role.”

See this weeks poll question about HFC's.


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