Senator Carson, Representative Tucker, and other members of the Environment and Natural Resources Committee, my name is Dylan Voorhees and I am the Climate and Clean Energy Director for the Natural Resources Council of Maine (NRCM). NRCM strongly supports this bill as a cost-effective way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and meet Maine’s essential climate policy objectives.
You will undoubtedly hear more from others about what hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) are and why these “climate super-pollutants” have an important role to play in atmospheric warming. Nor should I have to remind this committee at length about the urgency of acting to sharply reduce greenhouse gases.
I will, however, strongly encourage you to review the brand new 2020 Update of the Maine Climate Future report from the University of Maine Climate Change Institute. This updated report assembles the latest and best science about how global warming is already affecting our state, and how those impacts would increase in future years depending on the actions we take today. (As the report states: “Future scenarios depend on us.”) Those impacts cross many sectors and aspects of Maine, and the report notes the following in particular:
- Increasing frequency and intensity of precipitation
- Our winter season is changing the most
- Warming and changing chemistry in the Gulf of Maine
- Rising sea levels along with more frequent flooding
So the case for action is compelling.
As with many of our clean air laws, Maine’s impact on HFC emissions can be magnified through regional cooperation. We are very pleased that Maine is part of a multi-state effort to reduce HFCs. Acting together, states large and small can effectively accelerate the shift manufacturers are already making to move away from HFCs to safer alternatives. Forward-thinking industry leaders understand that it is time to move past HFCs wherever possible. However, efforts at the federal level have been stymied, including by foreign manufacturers.
HFC emissions are rapidly increasing globally, driven in large part by expansions in the use of air conditioning and refrigeration. By some estimates HFCs will make up 10-20% of global greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. However safer alternatives exist and the time to act is now. (The irony should not escape you that these gases are warming our state and our planet, increasing demand for air conditioning and refrigeration, which, without policies like this bill, exacerbate the problem in a vicious cycle.)
It is worth noting that air conditioning and refrigeration are not the only uses for HFCs. Aerosol sprays can also emit these super-pollutants. The spray foam insulation we are adding to our walls and basements is very effective at reducing the use of heating oil in our homes. That is reducing pollution, benefiting our economy, and reducing household expenses. But we can do better, by ensuring that spray foam products do not also contribute HFCs to the atmosphere.
Thank you very much for the opportunity to provide this testimony in support of LD 2112. We hope the committee will vote unanimously Ought to Pass.