Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Not Sure How I Feel About This...

Clean Air Act plea in Ohio air conditioner thefts
An Ohio man has pleaded guilty to violating the Clean Air Act by releasing a refrigerant into the air during the theft of dozens of air conditioning units.

Federal prosecutors say Martin Eldridge and others stole at least 49 units between August and October last year, releasing the refrigerant when tubing that connected units to houses and businesses was cut.
Actually, I am sure how I feel about this. I don't like it. I don't like it one bit. You see, at first, I thought, hey, great. They caught this scumbag stealing people's air conditioners last summer. I'll take a WAG that, since he was just cutting them loose, he was selling them for scrap metal, most likely to fuel a drug, alcohol, or gambling problem. Cops finally catch him, and they really want to nail him good, so they start digging, and bingo.

I mean, I like putting away thieving scumbags as much as the next guy.

Problem is, I don't like the precedent this sets. I really don't think the Clean Air Act was designed to be an add-on charge to some lowlife stealing air conditioners. Is it much of a stretch to say that someone that steals a car and then wrecks it is also guilty of releasing refrigerant into the atmosphere? Or, extrapolating, that if you glance down at the radio for a second, rear-end the guy in front of you and break your AC condenser, that they won't be hauling you off for a stint in FedPen over a violation of the Clean Air Act?

I think this hands the FedGov *WAY* too big of a sledgehammer to deal with an ant problem...

That is all.

Another dispatch from...
(image courtesy of Robb Allen)


Dave H said...

I'd agree with you except for two things:
1) They guy intentionally released Freon into the atmosphere. This wasn't an accident.
2) He did it 49 times.

If I dump the coolant from my central air unit just once while doing repairs, I'm in violation of the Act. So why shouldn't he?

.45ACP+P said...

Key word was "KNOWINGLY". He did it as part of his business model to make money. It is hard to be more flagrant. Now how much time did he get for the thefts and how much restitution will he pay? Scrappers should be shot on sight. They cause thousands in damages for hundreds or less in scrap value.

Freiheit said...

What about using federal felon-in-posession laws against a gang banger with priors busted with a firearm?

Does the clean air act only apply to collective entities (ie corporations) but not individuals? Does federal law always, sometimes, or never apply to "little crimes"?

Will said...

I've read that they figured out that the "freon kills the ozone layer" scenario was a SCAM that originated by the maker (DuPont?). They designed a replacement freon to keep the market in their pocket, then paid to have that bogus study released.

The problem this caused, besides being 10% less efficient, was the new freon (R134a) is poisonous to breath as released. The original R12 was only poisonous if burned. This was discovered when a bunch of crane operators in Brazil died of liver failure. This was due to a leak in the A/C system mounted in the roof of their overhead traveling crane. Freon is heavier than air, so it collected in the cab. I always wondered how it was supposed to travel to the top of the atmosphere to cause that hole, which turns out to be normal. Heads should be lost over this. I wonder how many people have died due to this poisonous effect?