President Trump Will Support U.S. Manufacturing, Despite Legal Argument on HFC-Related Case

The Trump Administration’s recent decision to ask the Supreme Court not to review the DC Circuit Court’s decision involving the regulation of a group of refrigerant chemicals known as HFCs has caused unnecessary confusion. Some news reports suggest that this development signals President Trump’s opposition to the Kigali Amendment, which requires the phase down of global HFC production under the Montreal Protocol.

This assessment is incorrect. In fact, sending this treaty to the Senate for advice and consent to ratification is still very much under consideration inside the Trump Administration. And well it should be, because this is an international agreement in the best interests of American businesses, consumers, and the environment.

The key driver of the Administration’s decision links to the President’s broader economic agenda — to protect and build U.S. manufacturing and U.S. jobs. A recent University of Maryland study found that ratification would create 33,000 direct and nearly 120,000 indirect manufacturing jobs, as well as increase annual high-tech exports from the U.S. by $12.5 billion. As with prior changes in refrigerants, solvents, and other applications, consumer costs will be barely perceptible — in fact, more efficient products will save consumers money on their electric, heating, and cooling bills.

The Kigali treaty creates a competitive advantage for U.S. manufacturing companies, largely at the expense of Chinese imports. For that reason, it enjoys near-unanimous support across U.S. industry. In May 2018, for example, 32 CEOs of the largest U.S. chemical and appliance manufacturers wrote President Trump urging him to back the Amendment.

To not adopt this agreement puts American manufacturers at risk, because it will let Chinese and other countries keep selling cheap and dangerous chemicals, and products that use them. America’s technological edge — in new refrigerants and more efficient equipment to use them — should not be squandered.

I have long been bullish that the President will eventually back the Kigali treaty. As I have reminded my friends and colleagues, President Trump will not make his call based on whether his predecessor supported it.

The President’s decision will be based entirely on U.S. manufacturing impacts and American competitiveness. He will care most about what happens if the United States fails to support Kigali — the harm inflicted on U.S. industry by Chinese dumping of cheap refrigerants. And he will soundly reject any internal advice that would result in him signing the likely death sentence of a strategic U.S. industry responsible for over 2.5 million American jobs and $621 billion in annual economic output.

George David Banks is President Trump’s former adviser on international energy and environment issues. He is currently an adjunct scholar at Columbia University’s Center on Global Energy Policy and the executive vice president of the American Council for Capital Formation.