The Environmental Protection Agency announced recently that a U.S. subsidiary of a foreign company will pay a $416,003 penalty and destroy 1,693 pounds of hydrofluorocarbons to resolve charges that it made several illegal imports of this “potent greenhouse gas.” David Uhlmann, assistant administrator for the EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance, said this case “is the largest penalty imposed to date for importing super-polluting HFCs as part of EPA’s National Enforcement and Compliance Initiative on Mitigating Climate Change—and the first to require the company to destroy the HFCs.”

According to an EPA press release, the subsidiary’s imports violated a prohibition on importing bulk regulated substances without possessing sufficient consumption or application-specific allowances at the time of import. The subsidiary also failed to give EPA the required notice of planned shipments of HFCs and to timely submit reports with information on HFCs it had already imported.

The EPA states that HFCs “are a super climate pollutant with global warming potentials hundreds to thousands of times higher” that carbon dioxide. For this reason, developed countries are working to phase down production and imports of HFCs by 85 percent by 2036. EPA states that it has therefore made it “a national enforcement and compliance priority” to address the illegal import of HFCs, noting that since January 2022 it has collaborated with U.S. Customs and Border Protection to deny entry to more than 80 shipments of illegal HFCs.

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