Architects' Hopes for HFC Ban Dashed as AIM (American Innovation and Manufacturing) Act Stalls Congress

[Title photo by Karsten Würth on Unsplash]

The news is so swamped with COVID-19 stories, you may have missed this important piece of non-Coronavirus-related legislation from this week that could have a large effect on our buildings.

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The American Energy Innovation Act sounds too good to be true. It’s a massive collection of more than 50 bills all rolled into one act, and its purpose is to modernize the future of American energy. Perhaps most encouragingly, the bill was introduced last month by the duo of Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia), working in concert, which seemed like a bit of bipartisan good news.

Another benefit of Murkowski and Manchin’s co-sponsorship of the bill: Their states of Alaska and West Virginia produce oil and coal, respectively, and they’re looking out for their constituents. Which means the bill, which seeks to fund research into alternative energy forms, might have found new-energy jobs for those states, which would help lift us out of our dependency on fossil fuels.

But this week the bill stalled out, as members of Congress could not come to an agreement to advance it to a procedural vote. The sticking point was the AIM (American Innovation and Manufacturing) Act, an amendment added to the bill and strongly supported by architects and environmentalists that would phase out HFCs (hydroflourocarbons). An AIM-supportive letter [PDF] sent to Congress and signed by over 200 architects and construction professionals states:

“As architects, contractors and engineers, we understand that transitioning from HFCs to climate-friendly alternatives is not only necessary for the climate, it is also a major opportunity for the American economy. We urge your support for the legislation.

“Building energy usage accounts for nearly 40% of global energy consumption and buildings play a key role in high HFC emissions. HFCs leak into the atmosphere from air conditioners and industrial refrigeration units during the lifetime of equipment and at the time of replacement and disposal. Pound-for-pound, HFCs have hundreds to thousands of times the heat-trapping impact of carbon dioxide.”

While the AIM Act had bipartisan support, the White House doesn’t like it, nor does Senate Majority Leader McConnell (R-Kentucky); they want to retain Federal control over HFCs, rather than letting individual states pass their own legislation. So for now, the American Energy Innovation Act is stuck in a stalemate.

When asked what’s next for the bill, Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Illinois) said “We don’t know yet, we don’t know.”

You may now return to your regular COVID-19 programming.



– “Energy bill stalled amid amendment gridlock

– “White House raises objections to bipartisan proposal to reduce use of heat-trapping chemicals

– “Massive Senate Energy Bill Falters

– “200+ Architects, Engineers, Contractors Urge Congress to Pass AIM Act

Source: core77

Rating Architects' Hopes for HFC Ban Dashed as AIM (American Innovation and Manufacturing) Act Stalls Congress is 5.0 / 5 Votes: 3
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