But the measure comes at a fraught moment for President Biden, who is struggling to shepherd the rest of his climate agenda through Congress. Democrats are trying pass a pair of bills aimed at expanding the adoption of solar panels, wind turbines and electric vehicles, but divisions between the party’s moderate and liberal wings have complicated their passage.
Thursday’s announcement, by contrast, shows how much easier it is for federal agencies to tackle greenhouse gas emissions when empowered by legislation.
Avipsa Mahapatra, climate campaign leader at the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), a nongovernmental advocacy group, praised regulators for tackling what she called “the most potent super-pollutants known to mankind at the moment.”
“This is a landmark EPA rulemaking,” she said.
HFCs were once an environmental solution — not a problem. They replaced other chemicals that, when released into the atmosphere, eroded the Earth’s protective ozone layer. But their heat-trapping properties still exacerbated global warming. Five years ago, world leaders signed the Kigali Amendment, an update to the 1987 Montreal Protocol, to rein in these super-pollutants.
But President Donald Trump never submitted the treaty for Senate ratification, and his administration rolled backed Obama-era policies aimed at meeting the nation’s commitments under Kigali.
Biden promised to send the treaty to Capitol Hill just after taking office but has yet to do so. “We know he’s committed to taking that action,” McCarthy said, “but I don’t have a time window to discuss with you.”