The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Luke Eshleman (202) 265-7337

Global Warming Progress Under Bush Illusory, Audit Finds


A major tool touted by the Bush administration to reduce greenhouse
gases does not work as advertized, according to a new audit by the
Inspector General of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The IG
audit is just the latest report finding that voluntary, market-based
programs relied upon by the current administration and several states
have poor track records and do not produce reliable results, says
Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER).

The December 17, 2008 IG report on ENERGY STAR, a voluntary labeling
program that is supposed to promote energy-efficient products to reduce
greenhouse gas emissions, concluded that many of the alleged benefits
could not be verified. In 2006, for example, the program accounted for
more than half of EPA's claimed contributions to greenhouse gas
reductions but the IG debunked those claims:

"We found the ENERGY STAR program's reported savings
claims were inaccurate and the reported annual savings
unreliable....Deficiencies included the lack of a quality review of the
data collected; reliance on estimates, forecasting, and unverified
third party reporting; and the potential inclusion of exported items."

ENERGY STAR is the centerpiece of a voluntary, market-based approach
for cutting greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions employed by the Bush
administration. An earlier IG audit from July 2008 found that all of
these efforts have, at best, marginal impact, concluding: "...we
determined that if EPA wishes to reduce GHG beyond this point, it needs
to consider additional [regulatory] policy options."

"These reports underline how hard it is to re-orient a massive
economy away from dependence on carbon fuels," stated PEER Executive
Director Jeff Ruch. "The danger for the Obama administration is that
it, too, will embrace ineffectual market-based approaches as the least
politically painful path."

One central issues both the Bush administration and several
Democratically-controlled states, notably New Jersey, are trying
mightily to avoid is direct regulation of greenhouse gases, instead
using market-based incentive programs. Significantly, ENERGY STAR is
featured prominently in the long-awaited New Jersey global warming plan
produced under Lisa Jackson, the former state environmental
commissioner and new EPA Administrator-designate.

"The approach put forward by New Jersey earlier this month appears
to repeat the same mistakes as those made by the Bush administration -
heavy on aspiration but short on implementation," Ruch added. "It is
one thing to set a goal but quite another to lay out a concrete plan
that gets the job done."


Read the EPA Inspector General report on ENERGY STAR

Look at dependence on ENERGY STAR by New Jersey

See crippling vagueness of New Jersey global warming plan

Examine frailties of cap-and-trade emissions plans

Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) is a national alliance of local state and federal resource professionals. PEER's environmental work is solely directed by the needs of its members. As a consequence, we have the distinct honor of serving resource professionals who daily cast profiles in courage in cubicles across the country.