OCTOBER 16, 2015
The U.S. government has spent over $300 million on “efficient cook stoves” for developing nations and the federal employee behind the costly initiative just got a prestigious award that’s supposed to honor those “whose work makes our country better, healthier and stronger.”
It’s not clear how American taxpayer-funded stoves operating in a poor African village makes the U.S. better, healthier and stronger. What we do know for certain is that Uncle Sam has been a major contributor to a United Nations project, called Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, that aims to improve the lives of those living in the poorest areas of the world by reducing the health risks of indoor smoke from cooking meals over open fires and crude stoves.
Exposure to indoor smoke from cooking is the world’s fourth worst health risk, the U.S. government asserts, citing the U.N.’s World Health Organization (WHO) estimate that it kills 4.3 million people annually. In all, 500 million lives in 100 million impoverished households will benefit from the multi-million-dollar clean stove program, according to the U.S. government. The hardest hit areas include sub Saharan Africa, Bangladesh, Guatemala and India. Stoves will “save lives, improve livelihoods, empower women, and protect the environment by creating a thriving global market for clean and efficient household cooking solutions,” the Clean Cookstoves website states.
It’s a noble cause, but how does the U.S. and its residents benefit from this? The federal employee who just received an award for his role in the initiative works at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). His name is Jacob Moss and he’s being recognized for his “commitment and innovation in helping to create and lead an initiative to enable homes in developing nations to adopt cleaner, more efficient cookstoves and fuels to improve and save lives.” This month he won the prestigious Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medals (Sammies), known as the Oscars of government service.
Winners represent the many federal employees whose work makes our country better, healthier and stronger. “The Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medals highlight excellence in our federal workforce and inspire other talented and dedicated individuals to go into public service,” according to the award website. It goes on to say that the awards align with the founder’s “vision of a dynamic and innovative federal workforce that meets the needs of the American people.” This brings up a valid question; how are the needs of the American people met by providing third-world countries with stoves?
Moss is getting the honor because he was a central architect in the program to enable homes in developing nations to adopt cleaner, more efficient cookstoves and fuels to improve health and save lives, according to the EPA. “Jacob truly embodies the spirit of commitment and service that this award honors,” EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said in a statement. “He has dedicated his professional life to eliminating the risks of toxic smoke from indoor cookstoves – one of the deadliest threats facing billions of people across the developing world.” Nearly 500 nominations were submitted this year and winners were chosen by a committee of leaders in government, academia, media and the private sector.
In 2010 Judicial Watch reported on a similar U.S.-funded program to replace “inefficient cook stoves” that were supposedly contributing to climate change and deforestation in developing countries. The Hillary Clinton State Department was responsible for that project, which received at least $50 million from American taxpayers and was formally announced at a Clinton Global Initiative Conference in New York. The allocation was justified with claims that smoke from “primitive stoves” was a leading environmental cause of death and disease and a huge contributor to global warming.
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