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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 MullinCongress must protect kidney disease patients during the COVID-19 pandemic Georgia strengthens democracy, moves closer to NATO with US support Five takeaways from PPP loan data 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 TonkoOvernight Energy: Trump officials finalize plan to open up protected areas of Tongass to logging | Feds say offshore testing for oil can proceed despite drilling moratorium | Dems question EPA's postponement of inequality training Democrats question EPA postponement of environmental inequality training Clark rolls out endorsements in assistant Speaker race MORE (D-N.Y.) and co-sponsored by Reps. Pete OlsonPeter (Pete) Graham OlsonDemocrats, GOP fighting over largest House battlefield in a decade Shakespeare Theatre Company goes virtual for 'Will on the Hill...or Won't They?' The time for HELP is now: Senate should pass bill to expedite recovery following natural disasters MORE (R-Texas), Scott PetersScott H. PetersTrump's illness sparks new urgency for COVID-19 deal Moderate Democrats push leadership to pull marijuana legislation One doctor's thoughts on a hopeful future MORE (D-Calif.) and Elise StefanikElise Marie StefanikWomen gain uneven footholds in Congress, state legislatures Republicans cast Trump as best choice for women The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Pence rips Biden as radical risk 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.