Gina McCarthy, who faces a hearing Thursday morning on her fitness to serve as EPA administrator, was primarily responsible for EPA’s promotion of an automotive air conditioning refrigerant that caused engine fires in Mercedes Benz testing, MailOnline can report.
McCarthy, EPA’s current air regulation chief, ‘provided the real forward motion’ for a plan to reward US automakers who used the new climate-change-friendly refrigerant known as ‘HFO-1234yf,’ according to an EPA staffer with knowledge of the agency’s internal processes who spoke on condition of anonymity.
When her EPA subagency, the Office of Air and Radiation, approved HOF-1234yf, McCarthy said that the chemical ‘helps fight climate change and ozone depletion.’
In February 2011, McCarthy’s Air and Radiation office at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved HFO-1234yf for use in American cars.
It also offers incentives to automakers using the product — such as General Motors, which currently uses HFO-1234yf in its Cadillac XTS vehicles (and European Chevy Malibus) and plans to feature it fleetwide over the next five years.
In Europe, HFO-1234yf is the only product meeting new European Union “greenhouse gas” guidelines — meaning it could be standard in more than 14 million vehicles a year beginning in 2017 (which would be worth an estimated $1 billion annually to Honeywell).
“This new chemical helps fight climate change and ozone depletion,” McCarthy said of HFO-1234yf in 2011 while serving as administrator of the EPA’s Air and Radiation office. “It is homegrown innovative solutions like this that save lives and strengthen our economy.”
Is any of that true, though? Last August at Mercedes-Benz’ test track in Sindelfingen, Germany, engineers simulated a crash in which the refrigerant was sprayed onto the car’s hot engine.