EPA Gives Green Awards Without Checking Facts

Ethan Barton Editor in Chief
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Green companies, academics and non-profits could be lying about their award-winning achievements for decreasing pollution, and the Environmental Protection Agency would never know it.

The EPA doesn’t verify data reported by the winners of the environmental agency’s Green Chemistry Awards – an achievement given to private groups for inventing pollution reducing methods, according to an EPA Inspector General report.

“The agency does not generally question or apply independent analysis to the data received,” the IG said. “Without data verification and transparency, the EPA risks reporting Green Chemistry Award results that are unreliable.”

The Green Chemistry Awards promote “the environmental and economic benefits of developing and using green chemistry,” and are granted to companies, academic institutions and nonprofits for creating new methods of reducing pollution, the report said.

The EPA uses the data winners report in its own environmental achievements. The agency beat its goal to reduce carbon dioxide pollution through prevention by 200 percent in 2012, for example, which “was attributed primarily to the results self-reported by Green Chemistry Award winners,” the report said.

The results from the program also stem entirely from private companies and are not a result of an EPA investment.

“It is therefore inappropriate for the EPA to take credit for the results of activities performed by predominantly non-EPA parties,” the IG said.

Also, there’s no evidence that an award winner actually reduced pollution in the U.S., since international companies are eligible and the EPA doesn’t distinguish where the results were achieved. More than half of the 98 winners since the Green Chemistry Awards began in 1996 had international components.

“The agency said it has the ability to separate domestic results from international results, but we found no evidence that this is occurring,” the report said.

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