San Diego man first in US charged with smuggling greenhouse gases

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San Diego man first in US charged with smuggling greenhouse gases:-The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Southern California stated Monday that a man from San Diego was arrested and charged with bringing dangerous greenhouse gases into the United States from Mexico. This is the first case of its kind in the United States.

San Diego man first in US charged with smuggling greenhouse gases

Police caught 58-year-old Michael Hart early Monday and charged him with smuggling hydrofluorocarbons, which are a “highly potent greenhouse gas” and are also known as HFCs. The accusation also said that Hart then made money by selling the HFCs on different online markets.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office said Hart broke government rules that were put in place in 2020 and say that HFCs can’t be brought into the country. The Climate and Clean Air Coalition says that HFCs are a group of strong synthetic gases that are mostly used in air conditioners and freezers.

Even though HFCs only make up 2% of all greenhouse gases right now, the alliance said that they can have effects “hundreds to thousands of times greater than that of carbon dioxide.” HFCs are also short-lived climate toxins; they stay in the air for about 15 years on average.

In a statement, U.S. Attorney Tara McGrath said, “Today is a big day for our country.” “This is the first time the DOJ has charged someone with illegally bringing greenhouse gases into the country, but it won’t be the last.” We are going to prosecute people who pollute our environment in order to protect it from the damage that toxic pollution cause.

‘Undermines international efforts to combat climate change’

According to a government indictment, Hart bought refrigerants in Mexico and brought them into the US illegally in his car. Under a cover and some tools, the refrigerants were hidden.

The charge says Hart then put the refrigerants up for sale on Facebook Marketplace, OfferUp, and other online shopping sites. The accusation says Hart also brought in HCFC-22, a substance that damages the ozone layer and is controlled by the Clean Air Act.

The EPA’s assistant administrator for enforcement, David Uhlmann, said in a statement that the illegal transport of HFCs “undermines international efforts to combat climate change.”

San Diego man first in US charged with smuggling greenhouse gases

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“Anyone who seeks to profit from illegal actions that worsen climate change must be held accountable,” Uhlmann said. “This arrest highlights the significance of EPA’s climate enforcement initiative and our efforts to prevent refrigerants that are climate super pollutants from illegally entering the United States.”

The U.S. Attorney’s Office says Hart went to federal court for the first time on Monday afternoon and pleaded not guilty. He is being charged with conspiracy, illegal importing, and illegal sale of illegally imported goods.

The worst punishment for conspiracy is five years in jail and a $250,000 fine. Hart could also get twenty years in jail and a $250,000 fine for the other charges against him. The next meeting for him is set for March 25.

U.S., other countries have been phasing out use of HFCs

The EPA and the U.S. Attorney’s Office both say that HFCs are “potent greenhouse gases that cause climate change.” Some of the things that gases are used for are air conditioning, cooling, building insulation, fire suppression systems, and aerosols.

“The use of HFCs has been rapidly increasing worldwide due to the global phaseout of ozone-depleting substances and increased demand for refrigeration and air conditioning,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office stated.

As part of a global plan to slow climate change, the EPA stated last summer a rule that would cut HFCs use by 40% overall. The rule comes after a law passed in 2020, called the American Innovation and Manufacturing Act, which says that HFCs can’t be brought into the country without EPA permission.

Based on the agency, the law gives the EPA the power to cut HFC production and use by 85% “in a stepwise manner by 2036.” More than 130 countries, including the US, signed an agreement in 2016 to limit the use and production of HFCs. This fits with that deal.

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