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Bill Regulating Powerful Greenhouse Gases Passes Legislature, on its Way to Governor’s Desk

OLYMPIA – The Washington House of Representatives voted 56-42 today to concur with Senate amendments and send HB 1050, a bill to regulate hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), to Gov. Inslee’s desk. The Senate passed the bill on April 7 with a vote of 30-19. Sponsored by Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon (D-West Seattle), the bill sets a maximum global warming potential threshold and applies strict regulations for ozone depleting substances to HFCs.

“HFCs are an extremely potent greenhouse gas, and while they are still a small proportion of overall greenhouse gas emissions, their use is growing,” said Fitzgibbon. “This bill is the biggest step the Legislature has taken this year to protect the climate.”

Primarily used in cooling and refrigeration, HFCs are roughly 1,400 times more damaging to the climate than carbon dioxide. The Legislature first regulated HFCs in 2019, but this legislation goes a step farther by officially designating them as an ozone depleting substance and setting maximum thresholds. The bill also directs the Department of Ecology to set up a refrigerant management program to safely manage and dispose of HFCs going forward.

“There are safer alternatives to these chemicals. Since we first adopted our standards in 2019, we have seen manufacturers step up to the plate with alternatives, states across the county adopting our legislation, and the US Congress taking bipartisan action to accelerate the transition away from these chemicals,” said Fitzgibbon. “Washington’s policy leadership has not only improved our environmental quality but helped move the entire country towards transitioning away from these dangerous chemicals.”

The reduction called for in HB 1050 will reduce the climate impact of refrigerants used in air conditioners by roughly 70% and in commercial refrigeration systems by around 90%. The bill is modeled on regulations recently approved by the California Air Resources Board.

The US Congress passed a bill in December of 2020 to require a 85% economy wide phase down of the HFC refrigerant supply over the next 15 years. This will avoid the equivalent of over 900 million metric tons of CO2 equivalent by 2035.