White House weighing whether greenhouse gas deal needs Senate approval

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The Obama administration is evaluating whether an international agreement reached earlier this month to cut back on greenhouse gases used in refrigerators and air conditioners will need approval by the U.S. Senate, the White House said on Tuesday.

Nearly 200 countries, including the United States and China, signed on to a deal in Kigali, Rwanda that would reduce the use of factory-made hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) gases.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest said it is unclear whether the accord, which is an amendment to the 1987 Montreal Protocol, would need to be ratified by the U.S. Senate.

The 1987 Montreal Protocol succeeded in phasing out the use of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), widely used at that time in refrigeration and aerosols.

“There has been an ongoing analysis of the agreement to determine precisely what role Congress may have to play in ensuring that the United States can keep the commitments that were made in the context of that agreement,” Earnest told reporters traveling with President Barack Obama at a fundraiser in Los Angeles.

Obama believes the agreement would serve the national interest of the United States by helping to curb the impact of climate change and by bolstering U.S. companies that develop alternatives to HFCs, Earnest said.

He noted that any vote on the agreement would likely take place after Obama leaves office in January.

“There will be a very strong case to make to the Senate about why they should approve this agreement, if in fact their approval is necessary,” he said.