Biden Admin Moves to Make Air Conditioners Too Expensive for Americans

Some parts of the United States are uninhabitable without air conditioning. And even in major cities, before air conditioning became widely available, people slept on balconies and fire escapes in stifling heat. Beyond comfort, the lack of air conditioning in Europe has killed thousands.

Mostly the elderly.

"Do Americans Need Air-Conditioning?" a New York Times piece asked in July. Air conditioning, it argued, is bad for the environment and makes us less human. It ran quotes suggesting that, "first world discomfort is a learned behavior", and urging "a certain degree of self-imposed suffering".

Temperatures in Paris hit 108.6 degrees. Desperate Frenchmen dived into the fountains of the City of Lights with their clothes on. Parisian authorities announced that they were deploying heat wave management plan orange, level three, which meant setting up foggers in public parks and distributing heat wave kits. The kits consist of leaflets telling people to go to libraries which have air conditioning. 

France24, the country’s state-owned television network, advised people suffering from temperatures rising as high as 110 degrees to take cold showers and stick their feet in saucepans of cold water.

A 2003 heat wave killed 15,000 people in France. And, in response, the authorities have deployed Chalex, a database of vulnerable people who will get a call offering them cooling advice.

The advice consists of taking cold showers and sticking their feet in saucepans of cold water.

The crackdown on air conditioners and refrigerators has been underway for a while now. But Biden, Democrats and some Republicans are really ramping it up.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is taking a major step Monday to battle climate change with the formal proposal of a rule phasing down the use of planet-warming gases called hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), which are used as refrigerants, the agency announced Monday. 

The reduction will decrease HFC production and use in the U.S. by 85 percent over the next 15 years. The rule is being issued under a law passed last year by Congress. 

The agency said it will create an allocation and trading program under which it will issue an allowance for how much of the gases can be used for 2022 by Oct. 1. 

Of course it will. Because there's a lot of money to be made.

“The phasedown of HFCs is also widely supported by the business community, as it will help promote American leadership in innovation and manufacturing of new climate-safe products. Put simply, this action is good for our planet and our economy,” Administrator Michael Regan said in a statement. 

It's good for selling Americans much more expensive and less efficient appliances.

The 1987 Montreal Protocol was an agreement to phase out production of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), believed harmful to the ozone layer. The Kigali Amendment is a United Nations treaty that would ban CFCs' replacement, hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) and substitute hydrofluoro-olefins (HFOs).

Unsurprisingly, the air-conditioning and refrigeration industry has broadly supported ratification of Kigali. The amendment offers a clear opportunity for profit, as households and businesses are forced to purchase new air-conditioning and refrigeration systems that use new alternative coolants to replace the HFC units being phased out.

New air conditioning units for home- and car-owners will be considerably more expensive. In addition, maintenance and repairs of the hundreds of millions of existing HFC-using units would likely increase as the supply of HFCs shrinks and prices rise.

Cato Institute's Dr. Pat Michaels illustrated the costs a typical American family would incur by comparing a cheap HFC unit to an expensive HFO (Solstice) one."HFC-134a, out of patent and made in China, goes for a bit under $7 per pound" Michaels writes. "Solstice costs $71. A 3500-square-foot house's heat pump will require approximately 15 pounds, or $105 worth of HFC-134a, but a whopping $1,056 worth of Solstice, and that's without installer markup. A similar ratio applies to the three pounds that a car air conditioner uses."

You can thank the usual gang for screwing Americans on this.

The Trump administration rolled back Obama administration policies aiming to fulfill the country’s commitment to reduce HFCs in a 2016 international agreement called the Kigali Amendment.

The rule came after bipartisan lawmakers agreed to pass a law requiring the phasedown of the use of HFCs by 2036, which was championed by Sens. Tom Carper (D-Del.) and John Kennedy (R-La.).

The provision was incorporated into a government spending bill after a compromise with Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), which added language preventing states from passing their own stricter HFC regulations for at least five years.

Americans lose. Some companies make more money. Environmentalists get closer to their endgame.

The package reconciles some of the key provisions from Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Joe Manchin’s sweeping bipartisan energy bill, the American Energy Innovation Act, and House Democrats’ similar Clean Economy Jobs and Innovation Act.

Murkowski and Manchin’s bill, considered the most comprehensive update to U.S. energy law in more than a decade, fell apart before the coronavirus pandemic because of a dispute over whether to allow a vote on a bipartisan amendment to limit chemical coolants called hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs, used in air conditioners and refrigerators.


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