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Attorney General Josh Stein Opposes Rollback of Protections from Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Release date: 11/16/2018

(RALEIGH) Attorney General Josh Stein today called on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to withdraw a proposal to roll back important protections from harmful greenhouse gas pollution. The current protections are designed to protect against the release of potent greenhouse gases, including hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), which are the fastest growing source of greenhouse gas emissions.

“Climate change is happening, and we must do everything we can to fight it to protect our planet for future generations,” said Attorney General Josh Stein. “These protections against greenhouse gas emissions help prevent our planet from overheating. That’s why I urge the EPA to keep the current rule in place.”

A coalition of 16 states, including North Carolina, argues that the EPA’s plan to throw out the rule on HFCs is unlawful and a serious threat to public health and the environment. HFCs are commonly used in refrigeration, air-conditioning, insulation, fire extinguishing systems, and aerosols, and are thousands of times more potent for global warming than carbon dioxide. The proposed rollback would result in annual greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to 3 million metric tons of carbon dioxide.In 2016, the Obama administration adopted a rule requiring that technicians repair leaky appliances and maintain appliances to prevent emissions of HFCs and reduce emissions of chemicals that harm the ozone layer. Last month, the EPA published its proposal to roll back the rule and claimed that the agency does not have the authority to require maintenance and leak-repair for appliances that contain HFCs, without providing any reasoned basis for its new position.

The coalition argues in its comments that the EPA has ample authority under the federal Clean Air Act to enforce these requirements. Failing to do so would contribute to global climate change, which is already causing forest fires, heat waves, sea-level rise, and has had a particularly devastating impact on North Carolina, which suffered from two recent hurricanes and two 500-year floods in the past two years. As the comments note, “The rainfall and flooding these hurricanes have brought was once extremely rare in North Carolina, but no longer is. The resulting human, economic, and ecological consequences are immense.” The EPA is also proposing to illegally delay the scheduled January 1, 2019, deadline for regulated businesses to comply with certain requirements while the agency finalizes its rollback of the rule. Many regulated businesses supported the rule’s requirements in 2016 and have committed to reducing HFC emissions. The proposed rollback would increase uncertainty and confusion for regulated businesses.

Attorney General Stein is joined in sending today’s comments by the Attorneys General of Massachusetts, California, Delaware, Iowa, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and the District of Columbia, as well as the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and the California Air Resources Board.

A copy of the comments can be found here.More from Attorney General Josh Stein on protecting the environment:

Contact:
Laura Brewer (919) 716-6484

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