Documents: Trump Administration Left Key EPA Staff in Dark Over Cuts to Energy Star Program

For Immediate Release

Documents: Trump Administration Left Key EPA Staff in Dark Over Cuts to Energy Star Program

WASHINGTON - Top staffers working with the Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star program apparently didn’t find out that the Trump administration wanted to eliminate funding for the popular program until it turned up in media reports, according to newly released documents.

The records were obtained by the Center for Biological Diversity through a Freedom of Information Act request. The documents, which are only partial at this point and include unexplained gaps, were released by the EPA after months of delay. The Center is now seeking full disclosure of communications regarding the budget proposal.

“It’s despicable to see the Trump administration’s slash-and-burn approach to good ideas that help people and the environment, including Energy Star,” said Greer Ryan, renewable energy and research specialist at the Center. “These records raise serious concerns that the decision to eliminate this widely successful program was done without consultation with the very officials charged with administering it.”

Energy Star is a voluntary labeling program that helps people and businesses save money while reducing energy waste and reducing harmful emissions. It helps consumers choose between different types of appliances, electronics, lighting and other products, as well as new homes and commercial buildings.

“I don't know how anyone could just terminate one of the most successful voluntary, public-private energy efficiency programs ever,” said one EPA staffer in a Feb. 28 email chain about a news story discussing Trump’s budget blueprint and cuts to Energy Star.

“That's rather upsetting — and, if true, counter to what we hoped/expected. For the first time, now I'm actually kind of scared,” another key Energy Star staffer said in response.

In 2015, with a $50 million budget, the program led to $34 billion in consumer and business savings. In total it has reduced greenhouse gas emissions by more than 2.7 billion metric tons since 1992 — the equivalent of nearly 40 percent of total U.S. annual greenhouse gas emissions. The Energy Star labels are recognized by more than 85 percent of Americans.

“Energy Star is a cost-effective and tried-and-true way to reduce energy waste in our homes and businesses. It’s a program we just can't afford to cut,” said Ryan. “It’s disturbing to see public records come to us that reinforce the suspicion that the decision to eliminate it was a political one that defies science and good economic sense.”

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At the Center for Biological Diversity, we believe that the welfare of human beings is deeply linked to nature - to the existence in our world of a vast diversity of wild animals and plants. Because diversity has intrinsic value, and because its loss impoverishes society, we work to secure a future for all species, great and small, hovering on the brink of extinction. We do so through science, law, and creative media, with a focus on protecting the lands, waters, and climate that species need to survive.

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