In announcement that surprised me, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced this week that it plans to end its Climate Leaders program. As a partner in the program, I received a letter explaining the rationale for this move:
“EPA has determined that climate programs operated by the states and NGOs are now robust enough to service our Partners and other entities that wish to continue to advance their climate leadership through comprehensive reporting (that exceed mandatory reporting requirements) and/or the establishment of facility or corporate-level GHG reduction goals. For this reason, over the coming year, EPA will phase down services the Agency provides under the federal Climate Leaders program and encourage and assist the transition of our Partners into non-federal programs that our Partners choose to join.” (Click here to read the complete letter to the Partners)
I felt compelled to respond and sent the following note to Assistant EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, outlining my concerns.
Dear Assistant Administrator,
This is response to the email I just received announcing that EPA is winding down its Climate Leaders program. I felt strongly enough about this action that I wanted to share my reaction immediately. In my own opinion is EPA is making a mistake in closing down such an important and successful leadership program.
With the demise of Performance Track, many of us in the sustainability community thought other voluntary programs might well be endangered and now the other shoe has indeed dropped. Climate Leaders has been a very valuable source of accounting expertise and the community of practice and sharing has been similarly of value to my company. We are members of many state, local and international leadership programs, but ones that carry the USEPA “stamp” are prestigious and recognizable and thus desirable.
While it is easy to argue that States and NGOs can offer the same sort of services, there is indeed unique value in national level leadership initiatives. I did not find EPA’s logic in terminating Performance Track compelling and I am failing to see the logic with this action either. I anticipate that many Climate Leader Partners share my dismay at this turn of events and I hope we can engage EPA in a dialogue on the subject.
Thanks for your consideration.
What do you think about the EPA’s decision? Can NGO’s fill the void occupied by a federal agency? What accountability is possible without government direction? I look forward to hearing from you.