The Environmental Protection Agency pushed out two new regulations Monday as part of President Obama's broad agenda to confront global warming.
One of the rules will phase out hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs, used in air conditioners and a potent greenhouse gas that many scientists blame for raising the temperature of the Earth.
The EPA's second rule would strengthen the agency's ability to regulate refrigerant chemicals, such as HFCs, that aren't harmful to the Earth's ozone layer but are dangerous when it comes to climate change. The agency says this group of ozone-friendly chemicals are potent greenhouse gases, which "can be hundreds to thousands of times more powerful than carbon dioxide." Carbon dioxide is considered the most abundant greenhouse gas.
"These two rules demonstrate the United States' continued leadership in protecting public health and the environment," said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. "We are reducing emissions of HFCs that are harmful to the climate system and showing the world that we can do this responsibly and thoughtfully by working with businesses and environmental groups. I'm especially excited that we have taken these actions ahead of next month's Montreal Protocol negotiations."
The rules follow Secretary of State John Kerry's push last week to adjust the Montreal Protocol to include a global phase-out of HFCs in both developed and developing countries. The action is expected to reduce the Earth's temperature by 0.5 degrees.
The Montreal Protocol is an international group formed in the 1980s to take on the challenge of the then-shrinking ozone layer.
Monday's rules are key parts of Obama's climate change agenda. They come less than 24 hours before the EPA goes to court to defend the Clean Power Plan, the centerpiece of that agenda, in federal court.
Lawyers from the Justice Department will spar against 27 states and more than 100 industry groups Tuesday over the Clean Power Plan before 10 judges on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.