Small change could make big difference for jobs in S.C.


President Donald Trump can help us unlock dynamic growth and innovation in a sector of the economy important to all South Carolinians by acting on a little-known, but hugely impactful opportunity called the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol.

The Montreal Protocol's roots lie with President Ronald Reagan, who initiated it as a way to solidify America's leadership in all things related to heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration.

While those of us in the Palmetto State certainly have a deep appreciation for the technology that keeps us cool, we may not fully appreciate that the United States has been the dominant leader in this global industry ever since the modern air conditioner was invented in this country in 1902. The Kigali Amendment, currently under consideration by the White House, is important to maintaining this leadership position. It phases out the use of hydrofluorocarbons and replaces them with new, innovative blends that are more efficient.

And it does all of this without any expected cost increase for American consumers. The reason for this is that Kigali ratification will allow American workers to manufacture the products we sell to the rest of the world. A study of the economic benefits reveals that American exports in this industry are expected to be $5 billion more than they would be without the amendment's ratification, and we'll see as many as 150,000 new jobs.

As our state treasurer, I speak with business leaders all the time. Prior to seeking elected office, I was fortunate to have built several successful businesses myself. While the business community is no great fan of regulations and red tape, what our community desires more than anything else is regulatory certainty.

American companies have already developed and hold patents on next-generation technology that have the bonus of being much more environmentally responsible, putting us in a strong position to continue supplying products that will be in high demand in a global market. These companies made those investment decisions because they expected that the Kigali Amendment, which they participated in the drafting of to ensure that it would not harm their bottom lines, would be enacted.

Fortunately, in President Trump, we have a leader with a unique understanding of the needs of the business community, as someone who has built a hugely successful real estate empire. And he also has pledged to consider any trade agreement based on whether it stands to benefit American workers. The Kigali Amendment gives him an opportunity to address the needs of the business community and to make sure hardworking Americans benefit.

If that's not enough, Kigali also provides additional tools to hold China accountable. Chinese firms have been repeatedly caught dumping cheap HFC blends into our domestic market. Kigali ratification would help put a halt to this practice and level the playing field.

I'm proud to join both of our U.S. senators, Lindsey Graham and Tim Scott, in calling on the president to send the Kigali Amendment to the Senate for its advice and consideration. And I'm confident that President Trump will land in the right place on this issue and choose to take an action that will allow America to continue to lead the way in cooling the rest of the world.

Curtis Loftis is the state treasurer of South Carolina.