Governor Janet Mills announced this week that Maine, along with Massachusetts and Rhode Island, is spearheading an effort to phase down the use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), a potent greenhouse gas and a driver of climate change. These synthetic gases are most often used as a refrigerant in appliances and are known as “climate super-pollutants,” with hundreds to thousands of times the heat-trapping power of carbon dioxide. Governor Mills submitted legislation that directs the Maine Department of Environmental Protection to limit the use HFCs where safer alternatives are available. Massachusetts and Rhode Island announced their intention to begin rulemaking to accomplish the same.
HFCs are the fastest growing source of greenhouse gas emissions both nationally and globally, and if left unchecked, could double within 20 years. Just one pound of R-404A, an HFC refrigerant used in supermarkets, has the same climate impact over 100 years as almost two tons of CO₂.
The legislation proposed by Governor Mills, An Act to Restrict the Use of Hydrofluorocarbons, directs the Department of Environmental Protection to do rulemaking that establishes a reasonable and orderly transition to products and equipment that use climate-friendly alternative to HFCs, where alternatives are available, and sets a time-table for that transition, beginning in 2021. The expected rules will be consistent with those being developed by Massachusetts and Rhode Island, as well as other United States Climate Alliance states.
Governor Mills’ bipartisan bill was sponsored by Representative Ralph Tucker (D-Brunswick), Chairman of the Environment and Natural Resources Committee, and co-sponsored by a bipartisan coalition of lawmakers in the Maine House and Senate, including Senator Robert Foley (R-York), the Republican Senate lead on the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Environment and Natural Resources.