by Dawn Quirk
I feel like I stepped into one of the Men In Black movies; Omran Alghazouli, wanted for the sale of R-12 Freon, an ozone depleting substance, Raul Chavez-Beltran, wanted for improper disposal of mercury contaminated soil. Forget alien invaders sucking up our ozone, we don’t need any help destroying our world. Raul and Omran are just two of the men who are part of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) fugitive list, a list of people who have been charged with crimes against the environment. What exactly is a crime against the environment? You know what a crime against humanity is: an offense against human dignity. So I would define a crime against the environment as a crime against the dignity of the environment, whether that crime is illegal hazardous waste disposal, trading in banned substances, or lying to a governing agency to save money or time. So why is it important to apprehend these environmental criminals? After all, there are only 22 of them on the EPA’s list, as opposed to the hundreds of other people on various other wanted lists.
Besides the fact that I’ve been called a “tree hugging hippie” and therefore am slightly biased towards preserving the environment, we are living in a time where most of society is industrialized and mechanized. We use chemicals to produce every facet of our lives, from food to cleaning products to machine lubricants. Many of these have been discovered to be toxic, either to humans or to the environment (heard of DDT? Thalidomide?), and many may have yet to be discovered to be toxic. Therefore, it is important for the Environmental Protection Agency to address the environmental issues that have risen from our way of life. The EPA fugitives pose as much of a risk towards human life if not more than other criminals, given the potential of the environment to impact large groups of people.