Some stories are just to much fun to ignore. Late last week, the GAO issued a report on the joint EPA/DOE Energy Star program. The sub-head says it all: “Covert Testing Shows the Energy Star Program Certification Process Is Vulnerable to Fraud and Abuse.” GAO found that it was able to obtain Energy Star certifications for 15 out of 20 bogus products for which it had sought certification, including a gasoline-powered alarm clock and a room air cleaner for which GAO submitted a picture of a space heater with a feather duster attached.
What significance, if any, does this story have with respect to broader debates about environmental regulation and the effectiveness of EPA? To be fair, not very much. On the other hand, for those with concerns about bureaucracy, the GAO investigation provides legitimate grist for the mill. If EPA and DOE can’t effectively manage a relatively small program such as Energy Star, how can they be expected to manage the many-headed monster that will be climate change and energy legislation?