- Office of Attorney General Maura Healey
Media Contact for AG Healey Leads Coalition Supporting New EPA Program to Phase Down Climate Super-Pollutants
BOSTON — Attorney General Maura Healey today led a coalition of 14 attorneys general, two state agencies, and the City of New York in supporting the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposal to establish a cap-and-trade program to phase down production and consumption of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), as required by Congress under the American Innovation and Manufacturing Act (AIM Act). HFCs are extremely potent greenhouse gases that accelerate climate change and endanger public health.
“HFCs are disastrous to our environment and put public health at risk, especially in our most vulnerable communities,” AG Healey said. “We’re grateful to EPA for working to reduce usage of these dangerous chemicals, as required by Congress, and we urge the agency to ensure that its HFC phasedown program does not further exacerbate environmental injustices in neighborhoods that are already overburdened with pollution.”
HFCs are climate “super-pollutants” that are commonly used as substitute for ozone-depleting substances in millions of consumer products from refrigerators and air conditioning units to cosmetics, spray cans, and household cleaners. They are among the fastest growing sources of greenhouse gas pollution globally, with hundreds to thousands of times the global-warming potential of carbon dioxide. EPA sought to phase out and regulate HFCs beginning in 2014, but HFC manufacturers and the Trump Administration attempted to all but eliminate federal HFC regulation, increasing HFC emissions and creating significant uncertainty for chemical manufacturers and consumers. On December 27, 2020, however, Congress enacted the AIM Act with bipartisan support, directing EPA to reduce HFC pollution by, among other things, establishing a cap-and-trade program to phase out both production and consumption of 18 HFC substances by 85 percent by 2036.
In comments filed today, the coalition asserts that EPA’s proposed trading program faithfully implements the AIM Act to phase down HFC production and consumption throughout the nation, reversing an unlawful and misguided trend toward loosening restrictions on harmful HFC pollution under the previous Administration. The coalition also notes that states like Massachusetts have been at the forefront of tackling the climate crisis, including through state regulations to reduce HFC production and consumption, and urges EPA to quickly finalize and begin implementing this critical program to mandate similar reductions across the country.
In addition, the coalition emphasizes that “Environmental Justice communities and Native American tribal communities in our States and across the country are already experiencing the most damaging effects of a changing climate.” The coalition urges EPA, in finalizing its cap-and-trade program, to identify and minimize any potential harms to environmental justice communities, including Black and Latinx populations and low-income populations, as well as Native American tribal communities, which are already overburdened by other pollution and other environmental harms and health hazards.
AG Healey is committed to tackling the climate crisis through solutions that promote environmental justice and protect Massachusetts residents, and to working with other state attorneys general and agencies to ensure that EPA fulfills its responsibilities to adopt strong and just climate protections. To that end, AG Healey has long advocated for strict controls to limit emissions of HFCs and other climate super-pollutants.
In June 2018, AG Healey joined a coalition of 12 attorneys general and state agencies in filing a lawsuit against the Trump Administration EPA in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit for rescinding regulations prohibiting the use of HFCs through guidance, rather than a public rulemaking process, as required by federal law. In April 2020, the D.C. Circuit ruled in favor of the coalition and reversed EPA’s unlawful action. In July 2018, AG Healey led a coalition of 18 attorneys general in urging the U.S Supreme Court to review a D.C. Circuit decision holding that EPA can no longer ban all uses of HFCs and other dangerous substitutes for ozone-depleting chemicals.
Joining AG Healey in filing the comments are the attorneys general of California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Vermont, and the District of Columbia; the California Air Resources Board and the Maryland Department of the Environment; and the City of New York.
This matter is being handled by Special Assistant Attorney General for Climate Change Megan Herzog, Assistant Attorney General Emily Mitchell, and Deputy Division Chief Turner Smith, all of AG Healey’s Environmental Protection Division.