The federal agency tasked with protecting the environment and promoting a “go green” initiative doesn’t always follow its own advice.
Earlier this year, federal auditors flagged the EPA’s National Service Center for Environmental Publications (NSCEP) for hoarding 140 tons of printed materials –or some 18.4 million publications – in a warehouse in Ohio. The auditors said most of the printed material was available for free on the EPA’s website.
The EPA’s Inspector General said the findings were so concerning it issued an “Earlier Warning Report” about the costly paper clutter. The agency is spending $1.2 million a year to maintain the warehouse, plus an additional $359,000 on the annual lease. The IG suggested the EPA find better use for the money by recycling the old materials.
“The EPA could put over $1.5 million to better use by reducing its inventory of excess publications at the NSCEP,” the IG said.
The EPA’s million-dollar paper-packed warehouse earned it a mention in Sen. Tom Coburn’s annual Wastebook report that was released on Wednesday.
“Somewhat ironically, an agency that encourages ‘green’ behavior by others needs to take some of its own advice,” Coburn said in the report.
The EPA for its part says it’s worked with other agencies to clear out the warehouse (the initial IG report was published in March). “EPA is also working with GSA [the General Services Administration] to reduce floor space needed for the distribution center and asking program offices to reassess their publication distribution and storage needs,” EPA spokesperson Liz Purchia said. “EPA continues to look for efficiencies and will be implementing all needed and viable NSCEP enhancements.”
Since March, the EPA says it has recycled more than five million items, according to Purchia. The EPA’s IG office could not confirm that claim.
The auditors are still investigating the agency’s warehouse and will be releasing the report later this year.
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