San Diego Man First Ever Person Charged With Smuggling Greenhouse Gases Into America

2024-03-06 10:00:32

Leslie is on vacation again when hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) make the news!

The DOJ charged Michael Hart of San Diego, CA, with smuggling greenhouse gases and selling them for profit.

I kid you not. Hart is the first person in the nation to face charges “related to the American Innovation and Manufacturing Act of 2020 (AIM Act). The AIM Act prohibits the importation of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), commonly used as refrigerants, without allowances issued by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).”

“The illegal smuggling of hydrofluorocarbons, a highly potent greenhouse gas, undermines international efforts to combat climate change under the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol,” said David M. Uhlmann, EPA Assistant Administrator for the Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “Anyone who seeks to profit from illegal actions that worsen climate change must be held accountable. 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.”

From the DOJ press release:

The indictment alleges that Hart purchased refrigerants in Mexico and smuggled them into the United States in his vehicle, concealed under a tarp and tools. According to the indictment, Hart posted the refrigerants for sale on OfferUp, Facebook Marketplace and other sites, and sold them for a profit. In addition to greenhouse gases, the indictment alleges Hart imported HCFC 22, an ozone-depleting substance regulated under the Clean Air Act.


Hydrofluorocarbons. HFCs. I know I’ve read about those before. Oh, yes! Our brilliant scientist Leslie has written about them before.

Leslie explained that HFCs have become “an alternative to chlorofluorocarbons in foam production, refrigeration, and other key industrial processes.”

That’s because chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) are too stable. According to Leslie, the CFCs “can survive in the atmosphere long enough to eventually reach the ozone layer,” where “they break down in sunlight and destroy ozone in the process.”

Leslie first wrote about HFCs in 2016 when climate alarmists needed a new target after they got their way with the Paris Accords.

Apparently, HFCs are “the world’s fastest-growing climate pollutant and are used in air conditioners and refrigerators.”

The agreement reached in 2016 placed caps on HFCs and reduced the gas beginning in 2019.

Leslie pointed out that the ozone layer has started closing up, which means the alternative, the HFCs, worked. So yeah…let’s ban the alternative that WORKED.

In 2017, when Justice Kavanaugh sat on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, he authored a decision that struck down the EPA rule on HFCs. In 2018, SCOTUS declined to hear a lawsuit challenging that ruling.

But then, in 2020, the Senate compromised on a greenhouse gas amendment that stalled a bipartisan energy bill.

The senators who wanted the amendment? Republican John Kennedy and Democrat Tom Carper: “The compromise amendment, like the initial provision from Carper and Kennedy aims to reduce the use of these gases over a 15-year period. It would require the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to implement an 85 percent reduction of HFC production and consumption as compared to the average annual levels from 2011 to 2013.”

In July 2023, the EPA issued its final rule on HFCs. The new rules included punishing those who take part in the illegal HFC trade:

The EPA rule includes a range of administrative penalties, including license revocation and retirement of allowances for companies that don’t comply. Fines and criminal penalties also can be imposed. EPA said it has finalized administrative consequences retiring more than 6.5 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent for 2022 and 2023 for companies that misreported data or imported HFCs without required allowances.

Since January 2022, an interagency task force on illegal HFC trade, led by EPA and the Department of Homeland Security, has prevented illegal HFC shipments equivalent to more than 1 million metric tons of carbon dioxide at the border, officials said. That is the equivalent to carbon emissions from more than 200,000 homes for one year.


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