Washington, D.C. – Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today spoke on the Senate floor ahead of tomorrow’s vote on cloture on the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks:
Besides working on judicial nominations, the Senate will also vote this week to advance a pair of critically important measures on the floor.
First, we will vote tomorrow to proceed to the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol, an agreement from the 1980s that united much of the world in reducing the use of industrial chemicals harmful to our Ozone layer. Three decades later, this agreement has been an unqualified success.
The Kigali Amendment is a golden opportunity to strengthen U.S. businesses and secure an edge against China in the emerging industry of next-generation refrigerants. So let me explain. It sounds a little complicated but it’s important.
The Kigali Amendment, which has been negotiated by both Democratic and Republican Administrations, would build on the Montreal Protocols by affirming the U.S.’s commitment to phase out the use of a particularly dangerous chemical known as hydrofluorocarbons, abbreviated commonly as HFCs. Though used only in small amounts in household appliances like refrigerators and air conditioners, they wreak havoc on our atmosphere. Many on both sides have long agreed we should transition away from their use.
By ratifying the Kigali Amendment, businesses that specialize in the next generation of refrigerant technologies would see new markets open for them; in fact one study suggests U.S. net exports could increase by $6 billion annually. $6 billion! So this is a pro-jobs bill. Combined with previous measures to reduce HFCs, this step could help create 150,000 new jobs here in the US.
All the while, we’d get a much needed leg up on Chinese businesses, who still lag behind—for now—in developing viable HFC alternatives. Failure to ratify the Kigali amendment would mean squandering billions in economic activity and potentially over a hundred thousand good paying American jobs.
The good news? This measure has broad support from the business community, including the Chamber of Commerce, the American Chemistry Council, the Semiconductor Industry Association, and many others.
The same support should manifest itself here in the Senate. The first vote on cloture will require 60 senators to move forward, and—because this is a treaty—we will then need the support of two thirds of the chamber to ratify.
For the sake of U.S. Businesses, U.S. innovators, and the sake of our climate and American dominance in emerging markets, I urge my colleagues from both sides to vote in favor of advancing and ratifying the Kigali Amendment.