MARCH 26, 2010
The federal agency recently swayed by the industry it regulates to conceal a hazardous chemical has been duped into labeling bogus products as greenhouse emissions-decreasing energy savers that qualify for government rebates.
This certainly indicates that Uncle Sam’s highly-touted Energy Star program, which offers hundreds of millions of dollar in rebates to those who use “energy efficient” products, is a big joke or at the very least a waste of public funds.
The scandal-plagued Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) runs the program along with the Department of Energy (DOE) and millions of tax dollars have been spent to encourage Americans to use its approved products. In fact, Energy Star just got a $300 million infusion from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act so states can offer rebates.
Now a congressional investigation reveals that products carrying the coveted Energy Star label may not be efficient after all because the program is highly vulnerable to fraud. More than a dozen fake items, including a “gasoline-powered alarm clock” and nonexistent dehumidifiers and heat pumps, submitted for approval easily secured the Energy Star label, according to a report issued this week by the Government Accountability Office.
It includes the embarrassing details of a nine-month probe that sheds a shameful light on the government for wasting tax dollars and essentially deceiving Americans into believing they’re using quality, energy-saving products with a reliable stamp of approval. For the most part Energy Star is a self-certification project susceptible to fraud and abuse, investigators found.
The best part is that officials at the federal agencies in charge actually agree that they take the manufacturers’ word when they issue Energy Star certifications. Self-policing subsequently ensures the products, which may not be energy efficient to begin with, maintain adequate standards, they assert.
Just last month a Wisconsin newspaper revealed that the EPA caved into the industry it regulates by keeping a household chemical (Bisphenol), banned in several states after hundreds of scientific studies deemed it unsafe, off its hazard list. The agency had previously earmarked it to be included on its list of dangerous products that need tougher regulation but reneged after high-level meetings with industry lobbyists.
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