A July report from the Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Inspector General finds “limited potential” in voluntary greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction programs.

The report most likely puts just one more nail in the coffin of volunteer GHG efforts that have been a mainstay of the Bush administration EPA but which are pretty much guaranteed to take a back seat under either a McCain or an Obama administration in 2009.

The I.G.’s report, “Voluntary Greenhouse Gas Reduction Programs Have Limited Potential,” (pdf) found perceived GHG emission reduction costs and reporting requirements the “greatest barriers to participation.” It projected that voluntary programs reviewed would unlikely lead to reductions of the 19 percent projected from involved industry sectors.

“If EPA wishes to reduce GHG emissions beyond this point, it needs to consider additional policy options,” the report said. It suggested that the agency annually review and revise GHG emission reduction cost analyses. It said written partnership agreements should require “stronger data quality provisions and details on how Confidential Business Information (CBI) will be handled.” The I.G. report said the agency generally agreed with the findings, but expressed concerns about doing suitable cost analyses for programs serving multiple industry sectors and voiced concern about how to adequately safeguard CBI data. The office of the I.G. said those concerns are not insurmountable and can be resolved through individual sector cost analyses and specific agreements with participants on protecting CBI data.

Topics: Climate Science, Policy & Politics