Republican and Democratic lawmakers have been negotiating a proposal within a senate energy bill that would result in an 85% cut to hydrofluorocarbon greenhouse gas emissions by 2035.[1] Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) are commonly used in refrigeration, air-conditioning, building insulation, fire extinguishing systems, and aerosols.[2] The American Energy Innovation Act (AEIA) is a bipartisan energy innovation bill targeting investment in clean energy technologies.[3] The bill’s proposed HFC amendment is a legislative response a 2017 federal court ruling striking down 2015 EPA regulations on HFCs.[4]

Despite general bipartisan support, the bill encountered hurdles related to HFC reduction and failed to move forward in March.[5]  The addition of HFC provisions to the AEIA resulted in contentious negotiations that stalled the bill, but a bipartisan agreement was reached on September 10.[6]  The HFCs amendment to the AEIA authorizes a 15-year, 85% phasedown of HFCs[7] and addresses a myriad of concerns voiced during negotiation, such as exemptions for HFC “essential uses” and the creation of 150,000 jobs through alternative manufacturing.[8]

The 2016 Kigali Amendment: Limiting HFCs under the Montreal Protocol

The HFC-related section of the AEIA tracks closely with the Kigali Amendment, a part of the Montreal Protocol[9] that was championed by the U.S. and adopted by 197 countries in 2016.[10]  While the 1987 Montreal Protocol formalized a global effort to protect the ozone layer, the subsequent Kigali Amendment sought to specifically target HFCs through a gradual phase down.[11]  The amendment established an international phase down plan beginning in 2019, with a goal of freezing consumption by 2024.[12] A 30-year goal to reduce 80% of HFC production and consumption would eliminate an estimated 80 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide, preventing a 0.5-degree Celsius  increase in global temperature by the end of the century.[13]  The Kigali Amendment, a binding international treaty, has languished in the U.S. because it has not been submitted for a Senate vote by the current administration.[14]  The AEIA, as a bipartisan energy bill with provisions mirroring the Kigali Amendment’s goals, may be a successful workaround for reducing HFC emissions.

[1] Juliet Eilperin & Steven Mufson, In rare bipartisan climate agreement, senators forge plan to slash use of potent greenhouse gas, Washington Post, (Sept. 10, 2020),

[2] United States Environmental Protection Agency, Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP), (Apr. 8, 2020),,fire%20extinguishing%20systems%2C%20and%20aerosols.

[3] Senate Committee on Energy & Natural Resources, American Energy Innovation Act, (n.d.),; American Energy Innovation Act, H.R. 241, 114th Cong. § 2089 (2015), available at

[4] Cheryl Hogue & Marc Reisch, Court strikes down U.S. restrictions on HFCs, Chemical & Engineering News, (Aug. 8, 2017),

[5] Jeff St. John, Massive Senate Energy Bill Falters, Green Tech Media, (Mar. 11, 2020),

[6] Press Release, U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, Carper, Barrasso, and Kennedy Announce Agreement on HFCs Amendment to Energy Bill, (Sept. 10, 2020),

[7] Id. at 6

[8] Id. at 6

[9] U.S. Department of State, The Montreal Protocol on Substances That Deplete the Ozone Layer, (n.d.),

[10] United States Environmental Protection Agency, Recent International Developments under the Montreal Protocol, (Sept. 26, 2018),,over%20the%20next%2030%20years.

[11] Id. at 10.

[12] Id. at 10.

[13] Id. at 10.

[14] Id. at 1.