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3 New England States Announce Plans To Phase Out HFCs, A Source Of Greenhouse Gas Emissions

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Maine, Massachusetts and Rhode Island have announced efforts to bar a class of chemicals used in refrigerators and air conditioning that are a growing source of greenhouse gas emissions.

"I think the industry knows that this is the direction that things are heading," says Hannah Pingree, co-chair of Maine's Climate Council.

She says that hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs, are a more potent global warming gas than carbon dioxide. And she says the federal Environmental Protection Agency had been planning to take action against them.

"Essentially that regulation was vacated by the current administration, and so that's where states are now starting to figure out how to put rules into effect that are very similar, so that we don't start to lose significant ground."

Pingree says the phase-out would go into effect as alternative, less-damaging coolants are brought to market. If the legislation passes, she says, most products containing HFCs would be barred from sale in Maine beginning in 2021.

The three New England governors are joining 16 others around the country to propose new rules that would require the HFC phaseout.

A Columbia University graduate, Fred began his journalism career as a print reporter in Vermont, then came to Maine Public in 2001 as its political reporter, as well as serving as a host for a variety of Maine Public Radio and Maine Public Television programs. Fred later went on to become news director for New England Public Radio in Western Massachusetts and worked as a freelancer for National Public Radio and a number of regional public radio stations, including WBUR in Boston and NHPR in New Hampshire.