Republicans push back on bipartisan bill to make greener refrigerators, air conditioners

Republicans push back on bipartisan bill to make greener refrigerators, air conditioners
© Greg Nash

Several Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee slammed bipartisan legislation to gradually reduce the use of heat-trapping chemicals in air conditioners and refrigerators, arguing the measure would raise costs for consumers.

At a committee hearing to discuss a bill that would reduce the use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), the GOP criticism was led by Rep. Markwayne MullinMarkwayne MullinOvernight Energy: Republicans eye top spot on Natural Resources panel | GOP lawmakers push back on bill to make greener refrigerators, air conditioners | Green groups sue Trump over California fracking plans Republicans push back on bipartisan bill to make greener refrigerators, air conditioners Lawmakers beat Capitol Police in Congressional Football Game MORE (R-Okla.), who railed against replacement costs and the possibility of needing to replace HFCs with a mildly flammable alternative.

"The consumer is the one that's getting hit with this," Mullin said.

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He later told The Hill that he would only sign on to the measure if it included "consumer choice."

"Don't force this system out," he said. "Just allow the consumers to make the decision."

David Doniger, senior strategic director at the Natural Resources Defense Council, warned lawmakers of the environmental impact of HFCs, which he said have "hundreds to thousands of times the heat-trapping power of carbon dioxide."

Democrats, meanwhile, rallied around the legislation introduced by Rep. Paul TonkoPaul David TonkoBottom Line Trump administration expected to roll back Obama-era mileage standards As we face coronavirus battle, we must ensure critical supplies of respirators for health care workers MORE (D-N.Y.) and co-sponsored by Reps. Pete OlsonPeter (Pete) Graham OlsonKulkarni wins Texas House Democratic primary Former sheriff, GOP mega-donor headed to runoff in Texas GOP race Pierce Bush: A second heir to the Bush legacy shifts right to win MORE (R-Texas), Scott PetersScott H. PetersIssa advances in bid to fill Hunter's vacant House seat Biden rolls out over a dozen congressional endorsements after latest primary wins The Hill's Morning Report — Presented by Facebook — Washington, Wall Street on edge about coronavirus MORE (D-Calif.) and Elise StefanikElise Marie StefanikLawmakers press IRS to get coronavirus checks to seniors Hispanic Caucus campaign arm unveils non-Hispanic endorsements Congress tiptoes toward remote voting MORE (R-N.Y.).

Tonko said after the hearing that he was not concerned about the opposition from his GOP colleagues.

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"I think there's a way to build consensus," he told reporters, but did not elaborate.

The bill, which has not been scheduled for a markup, has support from both environmental advocates and industry leaders.

Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute board chairman John Galyen told lawmakers Tuesday that the measure would "create American jobs, stimulate investment, and boost exports."

Similar legislation has been introduced in the Senate by Sen. John KennedyJohn Neely KennedyMORE (R-La.). It has several bipartisan co-sponsors.