The Biden administration issued regulations impacting air conditioners and refrigerators in an effort to curb greenhouse gas emissions, but experts warn the rules will drive consumer prices higher.

As part of the administration’s efforts to combat “climate-damaging” hydrofluorocarbons (HFC), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized a rule to accelerate an economy-wide transition to more advanced refrigeration and cooling technologies that don’t use HFCs, and proposed a second rule to manage HFCs in existing products. HFCs are chemicals common in household appliances, but environmentalists say they contribute to global warming.

“Today’s actions embody President Biden’s leadership on the climate crisis by tackling these planet warming chemicals while investing in American technology and innovation,” EPA Administrator Michael Regan said in a statement after unveiling the regulations late last week. 

“This final rule supports our transition away from HFCs and positions our nation to be competitive on the global stage, while the proposed emissions reduction and reclamation program will help ensure we achieve our national HFC phasedown,” he continued.


White House National Climate Advisor Ali Zaidi added that the “ambitious new action from EPA” would combat “climate-damaging HFCs” and create jobs.

However, energy experts warned that the EPA’s regulations targeting HFCs will ultimately drive prices higher for new products and repairs while harming consumers.


“This is likely to raise the costs — it may raise it substantially — of your next new air conditioning system,” Ben Lieberman, a senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, told Fox News Digital in an interview. “One of the issues is that the new refrigerants, the new eco-friendly refrigerants, are classified as flammable. So, there are all kinds of precautions that have to be taken when you have an air conditioning system with flammable refrigerants.”

“This is putting the climate agenda above the best interests of consumers,” Lieberman continued. “Anybody who wants the eco-friendly version is free to buy it regardless. The only thing that these regulations do is make the more expensive, but supposedly environmentally-friendly option, the only option. And that could only be bad news for prices, especially when you’re restricting competition in this manner.”

The actions Friday, which are set to go into effect in early 2025, came years after Congress passed and former President Donald Trump signed bipartisan American Innovation and Manufacturing (AIM) Act in December 2020 as part of a sweeping omnibus package. The legislation authorized the EPA to implement the 15-year phase-down of HFCs and was first introduced by Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., in 2019.

Additionally, in September 2022, Democrats and more than a dozen Republicans voted in favor of ratifying the Kigali Amendment, a global agreement first introduced in 1987 under the United Nations’ Montreal Protocol which requires signers to reduce usage of HFCs by 85% by 2033. The provision has been ratified by 138 international parties including the European Union.


“We’re dealing with a situation now where American consumers are being hit by inflation on goods such as food, fuel, products, appliances and then we’re going to add on top of that a regulatory restriction that increases costs for all Americans related to something that is really important for people — especially in hot climates in southern states or in the southwest — which is air conditioning,” Brett Schaefer, a senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation, previously told Fox News Digital.

“It also deals with businesses such as convenience stores, grocery stores, and others who use a lot of air conditioning and cooling equipment in the course of their normal businesses,” he added. “So, this potentially could add significant costs for Americans down the road.”

Schaefer argued the federal government should pursue HFC restrictions via domestic legislation to allow a reversal if consumer costs become too onerous.

In 2018, Schaefer co-authored a report highlighting how the Kigali Amendment would lead to higher costs. The report stated that the Kigali Amendment is mainly supported by environmentalists who advocate for the elimination of all greenhouse gasses and business interests “who stand to profit from the phase-out of cheaper HFCs.”


At the same time, industry groups — including the National Association of Manufacturers; the Chamber of Commerce; American Chemistry Council, Air-Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI); and the Alliance for Responsible Atmospheric Policy — have supported federal efforts to curb HFC usage.

“We are heartened that the EPA respected our sincere comments on the Technology Transitions Rule, addressing many of our concerns, and creating the certainty that is so important for industry innovation and job creation,” AHRI president and CEO Stephen Yurek said in a statement shared with Fox News Digital.

“The rule establishes a very reasonable, 3-year sell-through period for HFC-containing equipment; and establishes effective dates that are within the first major step-down period under the AIM Act,” Yurek said. “While we and our member companies will – as always – carefully review the rule, we appreciate what we’ve seen in our initial review.”

Climate activists and Democrats broadly have pushed for HFC reductions, arguing that the chemical is a potent greenhouse gas which contributes to climate change.

“Pound for pound, HFCs are one of the most potent sources of climate pollution, and this is a significant step forward in reducing the products that use them,” Alex Hillbrand, a technical director on the industry team at the Natural Resources Defense Council, a far-left environmental group, said in a statement following the EPA announcement last week. 

“Climate-friendlier alternatives to these HFCs are available that make these products work as well as – or better than – before,” Hillbrand continued. “Industry, environmental advocates and lawmakers from both parties are united in support of phasing down the use of these super pollutants. Now we will need to get to work bringing these climate-friendlier appliances to market while preventing the release of HFCs already in use out in the world.”