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Another View -- Paul Nagy: Putting the U.S. back in front of the global AC industry

July 19. 2018 7:48PM

Recently, Americans celebrated Independence Day with parades, fireworks, cookouts, and picnics – spending the day outside. And here in New Hampshire, July Fourth was a real scorcher! It made us appreciate the air conditioning in our homes, cars, and places of business all the more.

It’s fitting that air conditioning would play a significant role on America’s birthday. Air conditioning was invented here in America, by Willis Carrier in Buffalo, N.Y., in 1902 and we’ve been leading the way on AC ever since. America is where the cutting edge of air conditioning innovation occurs. We constantly find better, cheaper, and even greener ways to cool things that need to be cooled and freeze things that need to be frozen. We’re the coolest, chilliest country on the planet.

Mom, apple pie, and… air conditioning? Yes, indeed.

The larger industry of Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration – or HVACR – is a domestic powerhouse. It is responsible for more than 2.5 million American jobs, almost 700,000 manufacturing jobs, and $621 billion of economic output per year. The economic impact of the HVACR industry on New Hampshire is equally significant.

We have a commanding lead in AC and related technologies, yet there’s a huge problem.

Because of international agreements going as far back as President Ronald Reagan’s administration, the American cooling and heating industry is going to be hamstrung with limited access to global markets. Chinese cooling companies are going to be able to dump literally millions of tons of inferior, dirtier product into our market. This is a serious threat. Just last year, the U.S. International Trade Commission found that U.S. companies had been “materially injured” by Chinese companies dumping cheap refrigerants in the U.S.

Here’s the good news. President Donald Trump loves to see American industry win. It’s one of the main reasons I backed him so proudly during the primary. He can fix it all by sending something called the Kigali Amendment to the Senate for ratification. Support for the Kigali Amendment is consistent with President Trump’s overall job strategy aimed at bringing manufacturing jobs back to America. And every economic indicator demonstrates that the President’s strategy is working as the economy is strong and good paying manufacturing jobs are growing.

The Kigali Amendment would phase out environmentally harmful coolants. This would have the effect of opening global markets to new, less harmful coolants made right here in the U.S.A, creating more jobs in New Hampshire and across the nation.

We all believe in conserving our planet, but many of us refuse to give away American autonomy or American jobs to satisfy the concerns of lefty tree-huggers. But that’s a trade that nobody is asking us to make here. In this case, the Kigali Amendment would create more manufacturing jobs and a traditionally American industry will continue to dominate well into the future.

In that respect, the Kigali Amendment is not so much a climate agreement as it is a simple, limited, powerful trade agreement that puts Americans and American business interest first. And it would be a slam dunk in the Senate, because enough senators on both sides of the aisle understand this and want to support their constituents employed by this great industry.

Conversely, and unfortunately, if the Senate is not allowed to ratify this agreement soon Americans will miss out big time. Analysts expect the international market for HVACR to more than double in the next decade. Without this legislation they won’t be allowed to compete on an even playing field.

This is a loss that we can ill afford. According to one study, over the next decade American exports in this industry are expected to be $5 billion more than they would be without the agreement’s ratification and we’ll have perhaps 150,000 more jobs than we otherwise would have had, more than 30,000 of them in manufacturing.

Because of the great gains in energy efficiency from next-level coolants and the economies of scale that amendming this would create, there’s no evidence the Kigali Amendment would increase consumer costs over the long term.

That makes this a win-win-win situation. It’s a winner for American consumers, American businesses, and workers in American manufacturing. The only sane people hoping we don’t do this are foreign competitors with far inferior products that they’d like to dump here.

It’s all up to President =Trump now to let America lead on global cooling and heating.

Paul Nagy lives in East Andover.

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