SHORELINE – Today at Shoreline Community College, Gov. Jay Inslee signed a package of climate bills including HB 1050, a bill to regulate hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). 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. 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.
“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.
The US Congress passed a bill in December of 2020 to require an 85% economy wide phase down of the HFC refrigerant supply over the next 15 years. This will avoid the equivalent of over 4.7 billion metric tons of CO2 by 2050.
“Washington state has cemented its leadership role on HFCs with this bill, which calls for transitioning new cooling systems to more climate-friendly alternatives and makes significant strides toward improving management and disposal of refrigerants,” said Christina Starr, Senior Policy Analyst at the Environmental Investigation Agency. “States have an essential role in advancing US climate action by adopting laws like HB 1050, which supports ambitious federal implementation of the HFC phase-down nationwide.”
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 bill also directs the Department of Ecology to set up a refrigerant management program to safely manage and dispose of HFCs going forward.
“HB 1050 demonstrates Washington’s climate leadership on the issue of super-polluting HFCs,” said Christina Theodoridi, Technical Analyst at the Natural Resources Defense Council. “The bill will cut the state’s emissions of these dangerous gases by stemming HFC leaks from large existing sources and by calling on industry to supply Washington’s consumers and businesses with the newest, climate-friendliest air conditioning and refrigeration technology available. It’s a smart move both for the planet and for everyone’s bottom line.”
“We are very pleased to have worked with Representative Fitzgibbon on legislation that provides sufficient planning time and the necessary tools not only to enable the use of low global warming potential refrigerants, but also to align with the national transition under the American Innovation and Manufacturing (AIM) Act mandate.” Said Helen Walter-Terrinoni, VP of Regulatory Affairs for the Air Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Institute.
HB 1050 passed the Washington House of Representatives with a vote of 56-40 on February 23 and the State Senate with a vote of 30-9 on April 7. The House voted on April 12 to concur with Senate amendments by a vote of 56-42.