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EPA to abandon restrictions against chemical linked to climate change

EPA to abandon restrictions against chemical linked to climate change
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The Trump administration is planning to do away with an Obama-era regulation that restricted a known greenhouse gas from being used as a refrigerant in household appliances.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) late Wednesday announced it's proposing a rule to rescind a 2016 regulation that would have phased out the use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) in appliances. The chemical is frequently used as a refrigerant substitute in air conditioners and refrigerators.

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EPA said the new rule is based off the agency’s own determination that the previous rule “exceeded its statutory authority” by extending a refrigerant management requirement meant for ozone depleting substitutes to the gas, which in itself does not contribute to ozone depletion.

The agency added that the new rule does not affect current requirements for other ozone-depleting refrigerants.

Taken to task over the legality of the Obama regulation by two refrigerant manufacturing companies, the Trump administration defended the rule but lost in the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in August 2017.

Environmentalist groups, among other organizations, appealed the verdict to the Supreme Court, but the Trump administration announced last month that the appeal was unnecessary as it planned to change the regulation and asked the court to not take up the case.

Sensing a legal challenge may hinder the EPA’s implementation of the 2016 rule, a bipartisan group of senators introduced a bill in February that would give the agency the authority to regulate the greenhouse gas–causing chemical due to its air pollution, not relying on a connection to ozone depletion.

At the time Sen. Tom CarperThomas (Tom) Richard CarperCarper cruises to fourth term in Delaware Senate race Overnight Energy: Groups want Senate to probe Interior watchdog controversy | Puerto Rico eyes plan for 100 percent clean energy | Dems say Congress already rejected part of EPA car emissions plan Dems: Congress rejected part of Trump’s car emissions rollback MORE (D-Del.) said the bill, called the American Innovation and Manufacturing Act, “continues support for American development and manufacturing of next-generation HFC-alternatives, while also protecting our environment and helping the U.S. meet its obligations under the amended Montreal Protocol — a true win-win.”

Carper on Thursday decried the EPA’s decision to abandon the regulation altogether.

“I believe the federal government has a moral responsibility, not only to help our communities be better prepared for climate-fueled events, but to also address the root causes of these events.  Unfortunately, this action is yet another reminder the Trump Administration isn’t willing to take even the smallest step to address climate change or protect Americans from the threats of extreme weather,” he said in a statement.

He said he was still hopeful that the bill he introduced with Sen. John KennedyJohn Neely KennedyMORE (R-La.) would pass.