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EPA finalizes rule for first time to place limits on global-warming HFCs

EPA finalizes rule for first time to place limits on global-warming HFCs
Hydrofluorocarbons are commonly found in air conditioners and refrigerators and often leak from piping and can be thousands of times more harmful to the climate than carbon dioxide. File Photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI | License Photo

Sept. 23 (UPI) -- The Environmental Protection Agency will finalize its first new climate rule on Thursday, which restricts the production and use of hydrofluorocarbons -- a global-warming chemical used commonly in air conditioners and refrigerators.

The White House announced the rule and said it takes aim at what it calls a "super-pollutant."

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The EPA's move will mark the first time the federal government has ever tried to place limits on the use of hydrofluorocarbons.

In addition to curbing hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs, the rule takes other interagency actions that "together represent one of the most impactful federal efforts to reduce climate pollution in decades," the White House said in a statement.

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Officials said the rule has the potential to curb 85% of HFCs over the next 15 years. The EPA first made the HFC rule proposal in May.

In its announcement on Thursday, the White House said pollutants from HFCs have a significant impact on global warming and can be thousands of times more harmful to the climate than carbon dioxide.

"HFCs are exacerbating climate change and extreme weather events and the corresponding public health threats, physical damage and economic costs," the administration added.

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The White House said the new rule, along with the bipartisan American Innovation and Manufacturing Act passed last year, could reduce more than 4.5 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent from the environment by 2050.

The announcement said the rule will "bolster competitiveness of American industries" and "maintain and create hundreds of thousands of good-paying, union jobs" nationwide.

The EPA rule follows through on a law passed by Congress last year, the bipartisan American Innovation and Manufacturing Act, which addresses HFCs by phasing down production and consumption, managing the chemical and substitutes and encouraging transition to cleaner technologies.

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Biden has previously pledged support for a global agreement reached in 2016 -- the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol -- to cut HFCs worldwide.

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