San Diego Resident Michael Hart Arrested for Illegally Importing Greenhouse Gases and Violating Climate Regulations

Michael Hart, a resident of San Diego, has been arrested and charged with smuggling greenhouse gases into the United States from Mexico.

The charges include selling the smuggled gases for profit, violating regulations aimed at curbing the use of greenhouse gases and combating climate change.

Landmark Prosecution Under AIM Act

This marks the first prosecution in the United States to include charges related to the American Innovation and Manufacturing Act of 2020 (AIM Act).

The AIM Act specifically prohibits the importation of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), commonly used as refrigerants, without allowances issued by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Illegal Importation of Potent Greenhouse Gases

Assistant Attorney General Todd Kim emphasized the illegality of importing certain refrigerants into the United States due to their significant contribution to climate change.

The arrest of Michael Hart underscores the commitment to enforcing the AIM Act and other laws preventing environmental harm.

Global Consequences of Smuggling Greenhouse Gases

The smuggling of hydrofluorocarbons, highlighted in the indictment, undermines international efforts to combat climate change under the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol.

David M. Uhlmann, EPA Assistant Administrator, stressed the significance of holding individuals accountable for actions that worsen climate change.

Prosecution Signals Environmental Protection Initiative

U.S. Attorney Tara McGrath for the Southern District of California stated that this landmark case represents a significant milestone in environmental prosecutions.

The Department of Justice’s move to prosecute individuals for illegally importing greenhouse gases reflects a commitment to using every means possible to protect the planet from harm caused by toxic pollutants.

Greenhouse Gas Impact and Illegal Activities

According to the EPA, hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) are potent greenhouse gases used in various applications such as refrigeration, air-conditioning, and aerosols.

The indictment alleges that Michael Hart purchased refrigerants in Mexico, smuggled them into the United States, and sold them for profit through online platforms.

International Agreements and EPA Regulations

The indictment further alleges that Hart imported HCFC 22, an ozone-depleting substance regulated under the Clean Air Act.

The Montreal Protocol and the Kigali Amendment are international agreements designed to phase down the production and consumption of greenhouse gases.

AIM Act Provisions and EPA Regulations

The AIM Act, enacted in 2020, authorized the EPA to phase down the production and consumption of HFCs.

Congress added a list of regulated substances, including HFC 32, HFC-125, HFC-134, HFC-134a, HFC 143, and HFC 143a.

EPA regulations now prohibit the illegal importation of bulk regulated HFCs, with specific allowances required for import.

Legal Actions and Prosecution Team

The case is being prosecuted by Senior Trial Attorney Stephen Da Ponte of the Justice Department’s Environmental Crimes Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Melanie K. Pierson for the Southern District of California.

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