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Ozone concerns prompt phaseout fury.

Reacting to last week's news that an ozone hole could open over North America, President Bush announced this week that the United States will halt production of ozone-depleting chemicals by the end of 1995, four years ahead of schedule. But a loophole in Bush's proposed policy would allow significant production of damaging chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and other chemicals after that date.

Under the President's plan, companies could continue producing the banned chemicals for "essential uses and for servicing certain existing equipment." The Alliance for Responsible CFC Policy in Arlington, Va., estimates that, to provide for existing equipment, production would have to continue at 15 percent of its 1986 level. If the President's policy allows this production level, the new controls would speed the phaseout process by only one year. Current U.S. law requires companies to limit their production to 15 percent of 1986 levels by the end of 1996.

The Alliance, which represents companies that produce and use CFCs, praised the President's policy for balancing environmental and economic concerns. It estimates that by 1996, the United States will have $135 billion in equipment that relies on CFCs.

Liz Cook, with Friends of the Earth in Washington, D.C., calls the exemption "a big loophole." Last year, a coalition of U.S. environmental groups called for a total ban on production of CFCs by the end of 1994, with an immediate phaseout of halons and phaseouts of other chemicals by the end of 1992.

Negotiators will meet later this year to discuss strengthening the Montreal Protocol -- an international treaty governing the phaseout of ozone-depleting chemicals. Like the U.S. regulations, the Montreal Protocol requires a decrease to 15 percent of 1986 production levels by the end of 1996, with a complete phaseout by 2000.
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Author:Monastersky, Richard
Publication:Science News
Article Type:Brief Article
Date:Feb 15, 1992
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