EPA scuttles Bush-era voluntary climate program

“Factoring into the agency's plans for the program are the many new developments in regulatory and voluntary programs that address greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, including the first-ever mandatory greenhouse gas reporting rule that took effect on January 1, 2010. In addition, several states and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) now offer climate programs that are now robust enough to serve companies in the Climate Leaders program,” EPA said in announcing that it will phase out the program over the coming year.

EPA in 2009 completed final rules that require thousands of large facilities to report their emissions annually, and will begin implementing first-time restrictions on emissions from power plants, refineries and other types of facilities next year.

“EPA is confident that this transition will allow the agency to realign resources to better assist companies in learning from the emissions data collected under the Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program. This data will facilitate the exchange and application of best practices and innovative technologies across a wide range of industries,” EPA said.

“EPA’s other voluntary programs will remain in place and continue to work with partner organizations to reduce emissions and increase sustainability,” the agency added.

The dozens of companies participating in the Climate Leaders program include Alcoa, Raytheon and other manufacturers, Duke Energy and several other big utilities, and a range of other companies such as Frito Lay, General Motors, Pfizer, Dell, International Paper, Caterpillar and many others.

Here’s the rest of EPA’s announcement:

“As EPA phases down services the agency provides under the program — including technical assistance and setting greenhouse gas reduction goals — the agency will also take steps to assist the transition of the partners into non-federal programs that will allow them to go above and beyond mandatory reporting requirements to meet their goals. The agency will work with these programs to continue to stay involved in important initiatives related to corporate greenhouse gas accounting and to support companies’ actions to reduce their GHG emissions, in particular through other EPA programs such as Energy Star and the Green Power Partnership. The agency will also seek new ways to promote, support and recognize climate leadership.”