Climate Change:

Observations on EPA's April 1999 Climate Change Report

RCED-99-235R: Published: Jul 14, 1999. Publicly Released: Jul 14, 1999.

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Pursuant to a legislative requirement, GAO reviewed the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Climate Change Report, which was submitted to the Senate Committee on Appropriations in April 1999, focusing on the extent to which it: (1) provides a comprehensive explanation of the agency's climate change programs for fiscal year (FY) 2000; (2) justifies requested increases in funding for that fiscal year; (3) explains how the climate change activities are justified independently of the Kyoto Protocol; and (4) includes performance measures and goals and similar elements, as would be required by the Government Performance and Results Act.

GAO noted that: (1) EPA's report on its climate change programs is not comprehensive and provides little information about its programs' funding and expected results; (2) the report covers seven of the nine broad initiatives listed in EPA's FY 2000 budget justification for climate change programs, which account for about $240 million; (3) the report does not discuss two broad initiatives, which account for about $23 million, or about 10 percent, of EPA's total request for climate change programs; (4) according to an agency official, EPA understood the Committee's directive as relating only to programs that are part of the Climate Change Technology Initiative and omitted the two broad initiatives that are not part of the technology initiative; (5) whereas the directive was linked to the technology initiative, the colloquy called for a comprehensive explanation of the agency's programs; (6) GAO read the colloquy as seeking information on all of the agency's climate change programs, not just those that are part of the technology initiative; (7) the report generally provides data on funding and expected results only for the broad initiatives but does not explain how the individual programs that make up the initiatives will contribute to the initiatives' expected results; (8) although EPA was directed in the colloquy to issue the report by the time it submitted its FY 2000 budget justification, the report was not issued until April 8, 1999, about 2 months late; (9) EPA's report does not provide justifications for the proposed funding increases for individual climate change programs for FY 2000; (10) instead, it provides justifications only for the total funding level requested, and this for only four of the six initiatives for which an increase was requested; (11) for the other two of the six initiatives for which an increase was requested, the report does not provide estimates of the reductions in greenhouse gas emissions expected to result from the combined requested increase of $13.8 million or explain why there are no such estimates; (12) EPA's report explains that its climate change activities are justified by long-standing agency goals and objectives and are not intended to implement the December 1997 Kyoto Protocol; (13) the report explains that these activities are justified by an international convention on climate change that was ratified by the Senate in 1992 and by seven specific environmental laws that EPA implements; and (14) EPA's report includes information on performance measures and goals and related information, which is similar to the information required by the Results Act.

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