Jhansi Katechia photo
Sen. Chris Murphy joined advocates last week in Milford to discuss his bipartisan legislation to reduce “super pollutants.”

The Super Pollutants Act of 2014 is a bipartisan bill introduced by Murphy and Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, last week. The proposal is aimed at reducing emissions of short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs), referred to as “super pollutants.”

These super pollutants are non-carbon dioxide greenhouse pollutants and can come from a variety of places, such as landfills, refrigerators, air conditioners, diesel engines, and cookstoves.

Super pollutants stay in the atmosphere for a relatively short amount of time, but they are responsible for around 40 percent of global warming, making them the second-largest contributor after carbon dioxide.

For example, methane is emitted into the air from leaking landfills and oil and gas exploration, and black carbon is emitted in the form of soot from diesel engines and traditional cookstoves. The legislation seeks to mitigate the release of these waste products by working with a variety of federal agencies.

“If I stopped emitting black carbon, it’d be gone in a year or two. If you turned off sources for methane, it would be gone in 10 years,” Director of Yale Climate and Energy Institute Mark Pagani said, adding that the timeframe makes it a short-term project.

“These are pollutants that comprise about 40 percent of total global warming capacity,” Murphy said.

While President Obama and the Congress focus on their plan to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, Murphy believes that dramatic reduction of the super pollutants can help to slow climate warming.

The bill seeks to reduce SLCP’s by regulating federal agencies and their adoption of SLCP-reducing technologies and strategies.

“Government agencies are big consumers of refrigeration and air conditioning, and big users of gas and oil,” Murphy said. “The government has jurisdiction across these agencies.”

State Rep. Jonathan Steinberg, D-Westport, sees the gas flaring from wells in North Dakota as an opportunity to restrict the gas emissions. Murphy hopes that this will be part of what this super pollutant legislation will cover.

“We’re trying to push the state of technologies in different places on this issue,” United Technologies Chief Sustainability Officer John M. Mandyck said.

Mandyck explained that United Technologies has been making strides with refrigeration in supermarkets and marine container refrigeration, which is used on ships that transport food via ship. Mandyck said that where there are alternatives available, they should be using them.

“We don’t have alternatives in every area — the science just isn’t there yet. So we have to be practical about the way we want to approach this and this bill does that,” Mandyck said.

While Murphy was unable to quantify the exact impact of the legislation, he believes that it will reduce the growing issues of global warming.