Lawmakers push bill to target 'super pollutants'

Lawmakers push bill to target 'super pollutants'
© Greg Nash

A bipartisan group of lawmakers has introduced a bill aiming to reduce pollutants with an outsized impact on climate change. 

The bill, from Reps. Scott Peters (D-Calif.), Carlos Curbelo (R-Fla.) and others would create a task forced to study ways to reduce pollutants like black carbon methane and hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) that contribute significantly more to climate change than carbon dioxide, the most plentiful greenhouse gas. 

The task force would “optimize existing efforts at various levels of government to reduce super pollutant emissions,” according to Peters’ office. 

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“Super pollutants are the low-hanging fruit in the fight to slow climate change,” he said in a statement. 

“Existing technologies have been proven effective at reducing these potent gases. By coordinating efforts across multiple levels of government, the 'SUPER Act' would help make the U.S. federal government a leader in reducing these pollutants and keeping our air and water clean.”

The legislation comes as the Trump administration increasingly moves away from enforcing pollution rules put in place by Obama-era regulators. 

Trump, for example, has repealed the entire Obama administration strategy for reducing emissions of methane, which has 25 times the warming potential of carbon dioxide. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Interior Department have already begun the process of repealing rules limiting those emissions from oil and gas drilling sites. 

The U.S. is party to an international agreement phasing out the use of HFCs, which are primarily found in air conditioning and refrigeration and carry climate change potential 10,000 times higher than carbon dioxide. The deal, reached in October, requires the EPA to write a domestic HFC reduction plan. 

California moved last fall to cut methane, HFCs and black carbon, a byproduct of incomplete fossil fuel combustion, setting emissions reduction standards for each pollutant.

“This task force would be a significant first step to ensuring that our nation has all the information needed to accurately protect our environment from these pollutants,” Curbelo said in a statement.

Seven lawmakers, including two Republicans, are co-sponsors of the new bill.