House Climate Change Subcommittee Holds Hearing on Phasing Down Hydroflurocarbons
Jan 20, 2020
Last week, the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee’s Subcommittee on Energy held a hearing on “The Department of Energy's Office of Science: Exploring the Next Frontiers in Energy Research and Scientific Discovery.” Dr. Chris Fall, Director, Office of Science, U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), was the sole witness at the hearing. He provided a brief overview of current scientific discovery initiatives at DOE’s Office of Science, but spent the majority of his testimony sharing insight on a number of new initiatives the Department is pursuing.
As DOE begins 2020 with record research funding, the Office of Science is looking towards the future by undertaking new programs that will better position the United States to be the foremost leader in scientific discovery and energy research in the new decade. Specific areas of focus include:
- Building the new Quantum Information Sciences Centers as part of the National
- Quantum Initiative;
- Incorporating artificial intelligence and machine learning into many of the things we do across the Department;
- Developing the knowledge and technologies that will enable advanced biotechnologies and enhance biosecurity;
- and other research to promote the growth of other industries of the future being supported by the Administration.
Director Fall too mentioned the need for increased investment in the physical infrastructure supporting DOE’s National Laboratories. He states that “as we strive to push back the frontiers of science, we are mindful of the need to conduct the best possible stewardship of the Department's labs and major user facilities we provide. Most of the 10 Office of Science laboratories date to the cold war or earlier. I have made it clear to my team that, in our planning and our budget requests, we need to make sure we renew and refurbish the physical infrastructure of these laboratories in order to sustain them for the future.”
An hour-long question-and-answer period followed Director Fall’s testimony where Members of Congress questioned the Director on specific Office of Science programs, specifically discussing ongoing efforts by the National Laboratories as well as the ability for the United States to remain competitive in the current global environment.
Last week, the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Climate Change held a hearing titled “Promoting American Innovation and Jobs: Legislation to Phase down Hydrofluorocarbons.” Hydroflurocarbons (HFCs) are chemicals used for cooling and refrigeration that release high amounts of greenhouse gas into the atmosphere and are damaging to the Earth’s ozone. The hearing comes days after Subcommittee Chairman Paul Tonko (D-NY) introduced a bill to gradually phase down HFCs: H.R. 5544, the American Innovation and Manufacturing Leadership (AIM) Act.
The AIM Act is a bipartisan House companion to the Senate’s American Innovation and Manufacturing Act, introduced by Senator John Kennedy (R-LA). The Senate bill has garnered support from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and National Association of Manufacturers. The hearing examined the merits of the legislation. Five expert witnesses provided testimony, including:
- Cynthia Newberg, Director, Stratospheric Protection Division, Office of Atmospheric Programs, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Office of Air and Radiation
- Gary Bedard, President and Chief Operating Officer, Lennox International, Inc. (on behalf of the Alliance for Responsible Atmospheric Policy)
- David Doniger, Senior Strategic Director, Natural Resources Defense Council
- John Galyen, President, Danfoss North America (on behalf of the Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute)
- Ben Lieberman, Senior Fellow, Competitive Enterprise Institute
Director Newberg has been with the EPA for over 27 years, and while unable to offer a specific position on the legislation, she shared that the bill would grant EPA “authority and direction to phase down production and consumption of HFCs.” The main components of the bill are similar to programs already carried out by EPA and if signed into law, EPA would implement the program in a similar fashion to those already in existence.
To view a recording of the entire hearing, visit: https://energycommerce.house.gov/committee-activity/hearings/hearing-on-promoting-american-innovation-and-jobs-legislation-to-phase.