Debate Over Refrigerant Gases Holds Up U.S. Energy Bill in the Senate

Gas emissions
Published On
Mar 13, 2020

It's the nature of politics that even the best ideas fall victim to disagreement and dissent.

On Feb. 27, a massive bill to address global warming stalled in the Senate as members debated how to address hydrofluorocarbon gases.

The American Energy Innovation Act, was introduced by Senators Lisa Murkowski, (R-Alaska), and Joe Manchin, (D-W. Va.) in February. It comprises provisions from more than 50 other bills that have been introduced and debated over the last year.

Murkowski said this was a bipartisan effort, describing the bill as “our best chance to modernize our nation's energy policies in more than 12 years.”

Manchin said the bill will make a “down payment on emissions reducing technology.”

The provisions focus on supporting energy efficiency, renewable energy, energy storage, carbon capture, cyber and grid security and more. The bill would also encourage more research into these areas, and it would be the first major bill on this topic in more than a decade, according to The Hill.

While well-intentioned and comprehensive, the bill is not immune to controversy. The Hill reports that lawmakers voted against closing debate on the bill earlier in the week of March 10.

The source of the dispute is a last-minute amendment to add restrictions that would phase out the use of hydrofluorocarbons. They are used in air conditioning and refrigerant systems and are considered a contributing source of greenhouse gas emissions.

At the last minute, some Senators wanted to include an amendment that would phase down the use of these gases. Others wanted to include language that would not allow states to impose stricter restrictions than the federal government. Senators remain at a bypass.

About the Author

Rick Laezman

Freelance Writer

Rick Laezman is a Los Angeles-based freelance writer who has been covering renewable power for more than 10 years. He may be reached at

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