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Public Statements

Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act of 2008

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC



Mr. PRYOR. Mr. President, the Climate Change Act of 2008 wisely recognizes that chemicals such as hydrofluorocarbons, HFCs, and hydrochlorofluorocarbons, HCFCs, are valuable commercial products that are used in refrigeration equipment, home and automobile air conditioners, aerosols, insulating foams, and other products and should be treated differently than other greenhouse gases. These important gases are essential to the energy efficient operation of many of the appliances and refrigeration equipment American consumers and businesses rely upon. Having a separate market for HFCs is designed to reduce emissions of these gases over time, while safeguarding the business model of the producers and users of these gases in energy efficient equipment and products.

The Montreal Protocol treaty has been widely praised as a model of international cooperation to phase out the production of many ozone depleting substances including Freon and other CFC-based gases. Accordingly, the industry substituted HFCs for these substances, but now these gases are thought to contribute to anthropogenic global warming. The Montreal Protocol currently calls for a complete phaseout of HCFCs by 2030, but does not place any restriction on HFCs.

The regulation of hydrofluorcarbon refrigerants represents a major component of the Climate Security Act of 2008, and will have a significant impact on jobs, taxpayers, businesses that manufacture and import these chemicals, and the millions of users of these chemicals in refrigeration and air conditioning equipment as well as other applications. The businesses in this industry sector have a commendable track record of protecting the environment, and are successfully making the transition from ozone-depleting refrigerants to HFCs. Now, as there is a call to phase down the production and consumption of HFCs to address global warming, we must recognize the need for a regulatory regime that reflects the industry's complex marketplace dynamics, cost to the economy, and ensures fair and equitable treatment for producers, importers, and end users.

It takes about 10 years for industry to develop a new class of refrigeration gases with the required thermodynamic properties, low flammability and toxicity, and reduced global warming potential than what is currently in use. At this time, there is no known commercially available replacement for HFCs. The gas providers and equipment manufacturers will have to invest a significant amount of time and money to develop these new, safe refrigeration gases and the compatible equipment that can use them.

I believe that we can come to a reasonable and balanced approach on this issue. The fact is that we need a realistic baseline. The baseline for 2012 should be set at an amount necessary to avoid a supply shortage, the cost of which will be borne by small businesses and consumers. One study suggests that 365 million metric tons is an appropriate baseline. Such a baseline will provide for a smoother transition in subsequent years, which also will result in less cost to small businesses and taxpayers without any adverse effect on the environment.

I encourage Congress, the EPA, the gas producers, and the end-use equipment manufacturers to work closely together to establish a more reasonable emission cap and timeline for the transition from HFCs to a cost-effective, low greenhouse gas potential, alternative substitute. Through cooperation, I am sure we can establish a program that will guarantee the future development of economically sound and environmentally friendly alternatives for these important chemicals.

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