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WASHINGTON – The Environmental Protection Agency has finalized the first major step taken under President Joe Biden to curb climate change, releasing new regulations to phase down the use of a potent greenhouse gas used in refrigeration.
The EPA had announced in May it was beginning the rule-making process to restrict the use and production of hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs.
Emissions would be cut by 85% over 15 years.
By 2050, the reductions would be the equivalent of eliminating three years worth of carbon dioxide emissions from America's power sector, according to the administration.
"It really sends a signal to the rest of the world that the U.S. is in, we are all in, on climate change," said Gina McCarthy, Biden's national climate adviser.
Critics have charged that the restrictions will hurt consumers whose air conditioners and refrigerators run on the affordable refrigerant.
But McCarthy called the change a "huge opportunity for American industries," because the U.S. is already a leader in HFC alternatives.
"So making this shift is good for our economy," she said.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Air-Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Institute joined with other business groups in praising the regulation as balanced and a “win-win for both the climate and the economy.”
“The plan allows U.S. manufacturers to maintain a technological advantage over foreign competitors in the global marketplace in supporting an appropriate transition, while creating thousands of new and good paying jobs in the U.S.,” the groups said in a joint statement.
Biden on Tuesday urged world leaders to do more to tackle climate change when he spoke before the United Nations General Assembly.
Much of Biden’s ambitious climate change agenda is wrapped up in a major spending package that has divided progressives from the more moderate Democrats in Congress. The pending legislation would remake the energy sector and increase incentives for electric vehicles in order to dramatically slash emissions by the end of the decade.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Biden phasing out potent greenhouse gas used in refrigeration