The Trump administration’s latest rule weakening the way a greenhouse gas is regulated in cooling units also strips out language on how climate change affects children, new documents show.
A draft proposal on heat-trapping chemicals known as hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs, that was released Tuesday by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) does not include language the Obama administration had previously used pointing out how children could be affected by global warming.
“Certain populations and life stages, including children, the elderly, and the poor, are most vulnerable to climate-related health effects,” the since-removed portion read in part.
“Impacts to children are expected from heat waves, air pollution, infectious and waterborne illnesses, and mental health effects resulting from extreme weather events.”
The EPA referred requests for comment to the White House. The White House did not respond to a request for comment.
The language change was first reported by E&E News.
EPA officials announced the new rule in mid-September, though the specific text of the change wasn’t available online until this week.
The rule would do away with an Obama-era regulation that restricts HFCs, a known greenhouse gas that can contribute to ozone depletion, from being used as a refrigerant in household appliances.
The 2016 regulation would have phased out the use of the gas in appliances. The chemical is frequently used as a refrigerant substitute in air conditioners and refrigerators.
The EPA said the new rule is based off the agency’s own determination that the previous rule “exceeded its statutory authority” by extending a refrigerant management requirement meant for ozone depleting substitutes to the gas.
The text of the new rule also notes that the EPA did not study the effects of the rule change on children.
The phrase “climate change” existed three times in the 2016 rule in various sections. The phrase was struck out in every instance in the new rule.
The language change comes as the EPA last week announced to employees it was merging two key science offices as part of an overhaul of the Office of Research Development. Under the rearrangement the agency would disband the National Center for Environmental Research, a federal environmental office that works to test the effects of chemical exposure on adults and children.
Earlier in the week the EPA placed the director of its Office of Children’s Health Protection, Ruth Etzel, on administrative leave without explanation. Etzel told reporters she believed the move was done to ultimately shrink the office, an accusation EPA officials denied to The Hill.
BY MIRANDA GREEN – 10/03/18