The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s Cynthia Newberg, Director of the Stratospheric Protection Division at the Office of Atmospheric Programs, has been awarded the Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medal in Science, Environment, and Technology for her work in helping to phase down the production and import of HFCs in the U.S. and internationally, according to a statement by the EPA.
“During the past decade, Cindy Newberg has worked to get countries around the world to reach an international agreement to phase down the use of hydrofluorocarbons or HFCs; advised Congress on legislation to uphold the U.S. portion of the agreement; worked with industry and environmental groups to reach consensus; and most recently played an instrumental role within the [EPA] to craft regulations to implement the law,” said the Partnership for Public Service in a statement about Newberg’s award.
The Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medals, which are awarded annually by the Partnership for Public Service, are a highly respected honor with a rigorous selection process, according to the EPA.
“We are so proud of Cindy for winning the 2022 Samuel J. Heyman Medal,” said Michael S. Regan, Administrator of the EPA. “With an unwavering dedication to reduce HFC emissions, both at home and abroad, Cindy has proven to be the epitome of public service and inspires all of us at EPA.”
Newberg joined the EPA nearly thirty years ago, addressing refrigerants that were toxic to the atmosphere. Over her career, she has also worked on aviation emissions and served on delegation at international environmental meetings.
Negotiating the Kigali Amendment
In 2010, Newberg became the leader of the EPA’s technical team negotiating what became the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol, explained the Partnership for Public Service.
She played a key role in the amendment’s development, providing technical advice and analysis at negotiation sessions around the world. Following the approval of the Kigali Amendment in 2016, Newberg took on the role of advising the U.S. Congress on the legislation necessary to uphold the treaty’s commitments.
According to the Partnership for Public Service, Newberg also testified before Congress to explain how the implementation experiences under the Montreal Protocol could serve as a model for phasing down HFCs.
“The Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol was one of the most meaningful things I have done in my life—taking a class of chemicals that were contributing significantly to climate change, finding a path forward and saving up to a half-degree Celsius of warming by 2100,” said Newberg.
After her work on the Kigali Amendment, Newberg lead her team at the EPA to implement the American Innovation and Manufacturing (AIM) Act, which was passed in December 2020 and gives the agency the authority to phase down the production and consumption of HFCs in the U.S. The AIM Act is designed to reduce HFC use by 85% by 2036.
In the nine months since the AIM Act was established, Newberg and her team have worked set up the HFC Allocation Program, specifically the act’s implementation schedule.
According to Newberg, the U.S.’s domestic HFC regulation “will result in more climate benefits for the United States than anything the EPA has ever done.”
As part of her work on the AIM Act, Newberg participated in a policy discussion panel and a special workshop at the ATMOsphere (ATMO) America Summit 2022, organized by ATMOsphere (publisher of R744.com), was held June 7–8 in Washington, D.C.
The two sessions were focused on the impending “technology transitions” proposed rulemaking, which will facilitate the transition to next-generation technologies – such as natural refrigerants – by restricting fully, partially, or on a graduated schedule, the use of HFCs in different sectors and subsectors.
“Cindy Newberg’s leadership at home and abroad has given the world a fighting chance to avoid the worst impacts of climate change by leading both domestic and global efforts to phase down the climate-changing, super-pollutant chemicals known as hydrofluorocarbons,” said Christopher Grundler, Director of the EPA’s Office of Atmospheric Programs. “Reducing HFCs in the near term gives our species more time in the long term to address climate issues.”
“With an unwavering dedication to reduce HFC emissions, both at home and abroad, Cindy has proven to be the epitome of public service and inspires all of us at EPA.”Michael S. Regan, EPA Administrator
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