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A man from California has been charged with smuggling greenhouse gases into the United States from Mexico, turning a profit by selling them, as announced by federal prosecutors.

Michael Hart of San Diego allegedly brought refrigerants across the border concealed under a tarp and tools in his vehicle, later listing them for sale on platforms like OfferUp and Facebook Marketplace. This operation led to Hart’s indictment, marking a landmark prosecution under the American Innovation and Manufacturing (AIM) Act of 2020, which demands EPA authorization for importing hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs).

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HFCs, as highlighted by the Department of Justice prosecutors, significantly impact the environment. The substances, often found in refrigeration, air-conditioning, and other systems, are part of a larger effort by the US to phase out ozone-depleting chemicals.

Assistant Attorney General Todd Kim said, “It is illegal to import certain refrigerants into the United States because of their documented and significantly greater contribution to climate change.” Kim further stated the government’s dedication to “enforcing the AIM Act and other laws that seek to prevent environmental harm.”

Hart has pleaded not guilty to 13 counts, including conspiracy and illegal importation.


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