Democrats push EPA to act fast on greenhouse gas

Democrats in both chambers are pushing the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to reduce greenhouse gases immediately.

Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) and Rep. Scott Peters (D-Calif.) spearheaded the movement with 16 lawmakers who sent a letter to EPA chief Gina McCarthy on Wednesday.

They urged McCarthy to accelerate "commonsense policies" that curb greenhouse gases used in conditioners, refrigerators and other equipment.

Potent hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) used in the equipment will account for roughly 20 percent of greenhouse gas pollution by 2050, the lawmakers said.

The U.S. and China met with other G-20 members in September, vowing to curb production and use of HFCs under the Montreal Protocol — a 1980s treaty aimed at protecting the ozone layer.

In the letter to McCarthy, Democrats said, the EPA should not wait for the protocol to be amended, and instead should take action now.

"We believe the EPA does not need to wait to implement smart policies that can help accelerate these transitions in the United States and globally," the lawmakers wrote.

"We think that such actions would not only have significant cost-effective environmental benefits but would also strengthen the Administration’s hand in the Montreal Protocol negotiations.”

Countries participating in the Montreal Protocol have ramped up their usage of HFCs in air conditioners used in cars, hospitals and supermarkets because they are found to be a safe alternative that helped the ozone layer.

But while helping the ozone, Democrats wrote, HFC use is "not good for our climate."

"Unfortunately, it is now determined that HFC compounds can have a very high global warming potential," lawmakers added.