An American from California became the first US citizen to be indicted for illegal entry into the US of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), gases that are largely responsible for the greenhouse effect, American officials announced yesterday, Monday.

Michael Hart of San Diego, in the western US, was arrested under the Innovation and Manufacturing Act of 2020 that prohibits the importation of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) without the approval of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

These fluorinated gases, which are usually found in refrigerators and air conditioners, in fire extinguishing systems or even as expanding agents in foams, are powerful greenhouse gases, with effects hundreds or even thousands of times greater than those of carbon dioxide in the retention of heat in the Earth’s atmosphere which increases the temperature rise on the planet.

According to the Justice Department, Hart purchased the refrigerants in Mexico and smuggled them into the US in his vehicle, hiding them under tarps and tools.

The American from California then posted sales ads on several online sites, such as Facebook Marketplace and OfferUp, with the aim of making a profit.

“The illegal trafficking of hydrofluorocarbons (…) harms international efforts to combat climate change under the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol,” said EPA’s David Ullman, referring to an agreement signed by the US and other countries that aims to reduce the use of these polluting gases by 80 to 85 percent by 2047.

According to authorities, Hart also imported difluorochloromethane (HCFC-22), which can to contribute to reducing the thickness of the ozone layer and subject to regulation under the Clean Air Act.