Rep. Scott Peters announces the Super Pollutants Act
Dr. Veerabhadran Ramanathan looks on as Rep. Scott Peters announces the bipartisan Super Pollutants Act. Photo by Chris Jenenwein

Rep. Scott Peters on Friday credited fundamental research at Scripps Institution of Oceanography with identifying three “super pollutants” that can be controlled now to quickly slow the pace climate change.

Peters, a Democrat, teamed with Florida Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz to introduce bipartisan legislation that would regulate emissions of methane, black carbon and hydrofluorocarbons, three pollutants that are considered considerably more of a threat than carbon dioxide.

“These three greenhouse gases are some of the most harmful pollutants in our atmosphere,” said Peters at a press conference outside the Birch Aquarium at Scripps. “Curbing ‘super pollutants’ is the single, fastest way to slow climate change.”

The Super Pollutants Act would sharply reduce methane pollution from oil and gas production and establish a task force of government agencies to draw up plans for regulating black carbon, which is a component of diesel exhaust, and hydrofluorocarbons, which are used in refrigeration.

A bipartisan companion bill was introduced in the Senate by Maine Republican Susan Collins and Connecticut Democrat Chris Murphy.

The bills are based on fundamental research published 44 years ago by Dr. Veerabhadran Ramanathan, a distinguished professor of atmospheric and climate sciences at Scripps.

Ramanathan said the three pollutants are more potent warming agents that carbon dioxide, and do not remain in the atmosphere as long, so removing them would have an immediate benefit. Recent research by him and others has found that aggressively cutting the super pollutants would reduce global warming by 1.5 degrees centigrade by the end of the century.

“This Super Pollutants Act, if passed, would be a significant step toward stabilizing climate in the short term,” he said. “I’ve been waiting for 44 years for someone to take action.”

Peters said carbon dioxide emissions still need to be addressed, but passage of the new legislation would be a significant step forward. He said his goal is to create legislation with “achievable goals” based on the the best scientific advice.

“I’m not a scientist, but I represent an area with some of the best climate scientists in the world,” he said.

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Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.