Sat. May 25th, 2024

An American prosecuted for ozone harming substance dealing

By ki0nk Mar6,2024
News

A fluorinated gas that can have a health impact that is estimated to be hundreds or even thousands of times greater than carbon dioxide has been imported into the United States from Mexico by an individual who resides in the state of California. This individual has been indicted for importing the gas.

According to statements made by officials on Monday, a California resident has become the first American to be indicted for allegedly illegally importing a greenhouse gas that is extremely polluting into the United States. In accordance with the 2020 Innovation and Production Act, which prohibits the importation of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) other than those that have been allowed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Michael Hart, who is from San Diego, which is located in the western part of the country, was taken into custody.

It is common to find fluorinated gases in appliances such as refrigerators and air conditioners, as well as in firefighting systems and as blowing agents in foams. These gases are powerful greenhouse gases that have an impact that is hundreds or even thousands of times more significant than carbon dioxide in terms of retaining heat in the atmosphere of the Earth and contributing to the phenomenon of global warming.

In addition to it, Michael Hart brought in chlorodifluoromethane.

According to the Department of Justice, Michael Hart made purchases of refrigerants in Mexico and then unlawfully brought them into the United States in his car, concealing them with a tarp and various items. After that, the Californian made an effort to generate a profit by posting advertisements for sales on a number of different platforms, including Facebook Marketplace and OfferUp, among others.

“Illegal trafficking in hydrofluorocarbons… harms international efforts to combat climate change under the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol,” said David Uhlmann of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). He was referring to an agreement that was signed by the United States of America and a large number of other countries.

The primary objective of this agreement is to reduce the utilization of these polluting gases by 80 to 85 percent by the year 2047. Chlorodifluoromethane, also known as HCFC-22, is a chemical that has the potential to destroy the ozone layer and is subject to regulations under the Clean Air Act. According to the authorities in charge of conducting the investigation, Michael Hart imported this substance.

For a very long time, the southern border of the country has been a hub for the illegal trafficking of migrants, firearms, and illegal substances. On the other hand, what about the illegal transportation of greenhouse gases that are responsible for climate change?

On Monday, a man from California was taken into custody on allegations of doing just that. He is facing the first prosecution under a legislation that will be passed in the United States in 2020 with the intention of eliminating some of the most powerful greenhouse gasses on the earth.

According to the allegations made by federal prosecutors, Michael Hart, 58, of San Diego, acquired the gasses in Mexico and then drove them across the border in the back of his vehicle, concealing them with a tarp and various items. According to the allegations, he then proceeded to sell them online, including on platforms such as Facebook Marketplace and OfferUp.

In the year 2020, a law was passed that imposed stricter regulations on hydrofluorocarbons, sometimes known as HFCs, which are substances that are commonly used in refrigeration and air conditioning. Due to the fact that these compounds have the potential to be thousands of times more powerful than carbon dioxide in terms of warming the atmosphere of the Earth, they are referred to as climatic super-pollutants.

Hart “communicated with co-conspirators in Mexico to arrange for the purchase of HCFC-22″ and other refrigerants, as well as with customers in California, according to an indictment that has not yet been sealed. There are also buyers in California.

According to the indictment, Hart allegedly collaborated with other individuals in Tijuana between the dates of June 26 and December 18 of 2022 in order to acquire the refrigerants, transfer them across the border, and then sell them to purchasers in the United States. It provides a list of various dates on which he sold or imported the refrigerants, according to the allegations.

The indictment states that Hart sent a message to a customer who inquired about the availability of specific refrigerants. The message stated, “I can get 15 to 20 tanks per week,” in answer to the customer’s question.

Over the course of his initial court appearance on Monday, Hart entered a plea of not guilty to thirteen offenses, one of which was conspiracy. There is a possibility of receiving a prison sentence ranging from five to twenty years for the offenses.

On Tuesday, it was not possible to immediately get in touch with a defense counsel who represents Henry Hart for comment.

The first criminal prosecution involving the unlawful smuggling of HFCs has been brought forward. As stated in an interview on Tuesday, David Uhlmann, who is in charge of the enforcement division at the Environmental Protection Agency, stated that this will not be the final instance.

We anticipate that there will be a significant number of cases at the southern border,” he stated. It is possible that there are examples at the northern boundary. There is a possibility that there will be cases in cities and towns all throughout the United States until we make it abundantly obvious that we have a zero-tolerance policy. This is due to the fact that we might not be able to capture every unlawful cargo.

In addition, Uhlmann stated that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) would continue to collaborate with the Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security in order to keep a “active presence” at the border and at ports located all over the country.

The United States Attorney for the Southern District of California, Tara McGrath, issued a statement in which she stated that “we are using every means possible to protect our planet from the harm caused by toxic pollutants, including bringing criminal charges.”

The indictment that was handed down on Monday sends “a very strong signal” to anybody who might be illegally importing HFCs, according to Avipsa Mahapatra, who is the climate campaign director at the Environmental Investigation Agency, which is a monitoring organization.

Mahapatra stated, “If you are smuggling HFCs, I believe that you are committing a crime against the environment.” Furthermore, it undermines our global efforts to gradually reduce the use of these chemicals, which is a clear indication.

HFCs were initially developed by businesses as a replacement for chlorofluorocarbons, also known as CFCs. CFCs were responsible for wreaking havoc on the ozone layer and were eventually phased out as a result of a convention that was named the Montreal Protocol in 1987.

But despite the fact that this effort was successful in reducing the amount of damage done to the ozone layer, hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) have since become widely used all over the world and are hundreds to thousands of times more powerful than carbon dioxide in terms of their ability to cause global warming.

As part of an international agreement that was referred to as the Kigali Amendment, countries made a commitment in 2016 to reduce their production and consumption of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) by between 80 and 85 percent by the late 2040s.

In addition, the indictment that was handed out on Monday asserts that Hart imported HCFC-22, which is described as “an ozone-depleting substance regulated under the Clean Air Act.” According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the manufacturing and import of the drug, which is generally known as R-22, came to a stop on January 1, 2020.

David Doniger, senior strategic director of the climate and clean energy program at the Natural Resources Defense Council, expressed his approval of Hart’s arrest but emphasized the need for additional action within the organization.

The fact that they are able to apprehend and hold accountable this smuggler is a very positive development, according to Doniger. On the other hand, there is a huge problem with smuggling. Smuggling of chlorofluorocarbons (CFC) was the second-biggest problem behind the illegal drug trade at one point.

Mahapatra was in agreement.

“During the 1990s, there was a dangerous underground market for chlorofluorocarbons,” she stated. During that period of time, the street value of a cylinder of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) was almost identical to that of cocaine. In order to avoid returning to that scenario, it is of the utmost importance that we put an end to the unlawful trafficking of HFCs. That would be unsustainable for our climate.

It has been reported by the Justice Department that Hart is set to appear before United States District Judge Jeffrey T. Miller for his subsequent hearing on March 25.

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By ki0nk

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