EPA ends sponsorship of climate leadership program

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will no longer sponsor an awards program honoring voluntary corporate actions to combat global warming, it announced on Friday, the agency’s latest move to undo Obama-era climate change programs.

FILE PHOTO: Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt speaks during an interview for Reuters at his office in Washington, U.S., July 10, 2017. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

Since 2012, the EPA has been the lead sponsor of the Climate Leadership Awards program and conference, which recognizes companies that reduce greenhouse gas emissions in their internal operations and supply chains.

In an email sent on Friday, the EPA announced it will no longer be involved in the awards or the conference.

Under Administrator Scott Pruitt, who has repeatedly expressed doubts about climate change, the EPA has moved to undo dozens of Obama-era climate regulations in what it says is an effort to ease the regulatory burden on energy and agriculture companies.

In the Trump administration’s budget proposal for 2018, the EPA was the target of the largest cut - 31 percent - a figure that Republican and Democratic lawmakers opposed.

In Friday’s email, the EPA did not explain why it is eliminating the awards program, but apologized for the inconvenience of its announcement in the middle of the award application process. The awards were to be given out in Denver between Feb. 28 and March 2, 2018.

“It shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that we don’t plan to fund an awards ceremony on climate change,” said Jahan Wilcox, EPA spokesman.

The agency spent $24,950 per year on sponsorship, plus travel and staff time for those managing the awards.

NGO co-sponsors of the awards program and conference - C2ES and the Climate Registry - said on Friday they will continue to fund the awards and conference and are eager to work with new partners to host the program.

The program has honored more than 115 companies and individuals since 2012, including Microsoft Corp MSFT.O, Boeing Co BA.N and Mack Trucks VOLVb.ST, as well as institutions like the University of California at Irvine.

Reporting by Valerie Volcovici; Editing by Matthew Lewis