Energy & Environment

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 Mullin (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.

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 Tonko (D-N.Y.) and co-sponsored by Reps. Pete Olson (R-Texas), Scott Peters (D-Calif.) and Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.).

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

“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 Kennedy (R-La.). It has several bipartisan co-sponsors.

Tags air conditioners Elise Stefanik HFC HFCs Hydrofluorocarbon hydrofluorocarbons John Kennedy Markwayne Mullin NRDC Paul Tonko Pete Olson refrigerators Scott Peters
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