The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has decided to phase down services the agency offers to companies under its eight-year-old Climate Leaders program, including technical assistance and setting greenhouse gas reduction goals.
Climate Leaders was started in 2002 under the Bush administration as a voluntary program for organizations to complete a corporate-wide greenhouse gas inventory, set a reduction goal and meet that goal.
The EPA said there are many new developments in regulatory and voluntary programs that address greenhouse gas emissions, including the first-ever mandatory greenhouse gas reporting rules that took effect on January 1, 2010.
In a letter to Climate Leaders companies dated September 15, Gina McCarthy, assistant administrator in EPA's Office of Air and Radiation, said the mandatory reporting rules will take the place of the voluntary Climate Leaders program.
"EPA has also finalized and is implementing Mandatory Reporting Rules that the Climate Leaders program helped to inform," wrote McCarthy.
"These rules provide the foundation for a new comprehensive greenhouse gas Reporting Program that EPA is confident will spark significant interest in and support for greenhouse gas emissions reductions," she wrote.
McCarthy wrote that the transition will "allow us to realign EPA resources" to help companies learn from the emissions data collected under the new Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program.
McCarthy said states and nongovernmental organizations can now perform the services the EPA has been providing through the Climate Leaders program.
"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 greenhouse gas reduction goals," she wrote.
McCarthy says the EPA will assist the transition of the Climate Leaders partners into these non-federal programs "that will allow them to go above and beyond mandatory reporting requirements to meet their goals."
But she stopped short of recommending any of these non-federal programs, saying, "With the exception of programs offered by our state coregulators, EPA cannot endorse any particular program. It is up to each Partner to decide which program would be the best fit."
"EPA very much values the effort that our Partners have made to meet Climate Leaders requirements and achieve program milestones and is proud of your many accomplishments," McCarthy wrote. "I want to be clear that this transition does not signal the end of EPA's commitment to recognize climate leaders."
While some of the Climate Leaders participating companies only made pledges to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, others have achieved their stated goals.