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Energy Star Program Certifies 15 Out of 20 Bogus Products 275

Posted by timothy
from the so-have-no-fears-about-govt-insurance dept.
longacre writes "A Gasoline-Powered Alarm Clock was among 15 bogus products granted the coveted Energy Star seal of approval by the US Environmental Protection Agency during a secret evaluation conducted by the Government Accountability Office. In addition, four fictional manufacturers run by fake people and marketed with crummy websites — Cool Rapport (HVAC equipment), Futurizon Solar Innovations (lighting), Spartan Digital Electronics, and Tropical Thunder Appliances — were granted Energy Star partnerships. The root of the problem: Manufacturers need only submit photos and not actual examples of their products, and they submit their own efficiency ratings, which are not independently verified by the EPA."
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Energy Star Program Certifies 15 Out of 20 Bogus Products

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  • Re:Like patents (Score:3, Insightful)

    by poetmatt (793785) on Friday March 26, 2010 @06:47PM (#31634290) Journal

    who said the bureacracy tests hardware? certification labs are supposed to do the testing. it sounds like they aren't.

  • by Lost+Found (844289) on Friday March 26, 2010 @06:48PM (#31634298)

    Bernie Madoff stole 50 billion dollars right under the SEC and FINRA's noses. Unlike private agencies like the UL that face the threat of extinction if they ruin their brand, government agencies routinely screw up, screw the people they're supposed to protect and get more money for their failures.

  • Lawl. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cosm (1072588) <thecosm3@gmail. c o m> on Friday March 26, 2010 @06:54PM (#31634354)
    It is a sad state of affairs that our government has to set up a separate agency to analyze the (in)efficiency of a government organization that is setup to analyze the (in)efficiencys of other organizations. The U.S government is becoming a conglomerate of Department of Redundancy Departments, whose productivity is measured in how much money is thrown down the chasm. Glad to see my tax dollars at work.
  • Re:Like patents (Score:4, Insightful)

    by petermgreen (876956) <plugwash.p10link@net> on Friday March 26, 2010 @07:01PM (#31634418) Homepage

    Well the article claims that they just accept the manufacturers test data. It's fine for a certification agency to accept testing from trusted labs but they should still be both inspecting/testing those labs procedures AND verifying that results really come from the lab they claim to come from. If they don't it renders the agencies badges far less trustworthy.

  • Re:Like patents (Score:3, Insightful)

    by dbIII (701233) on Friday March 26, 2010 @07:07PM (#31634466)
    The only problem is that they pretend to do so.
  • Re:Lawl. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by moosesocks (264553) on Friday March 26, 2010 @07:08PM (#31634478) Homepage

    Pretty much every company bigger than 10-20 employees has some sort of auditing system in place. Auditing is a good practice, and catches things such as this -- the only difference with the government is that audits are made public.

  • by PineGreen (446635) on Friday March 26, 2010 @07:11PM (#31634514) Homepage

    This kind of comments make me want to return to Europe. I've been living in US for a couple of years now, I have a 6 figure salary and you know what: I hate paying so little in taxes. Because you get what you pay for. In USA you have small government, no taxes and hence everyone gets routinely screwed up by private sector: I have never paid so much in telecommunications, so much in healthcare costs for the shittiest service ever and I just punctured tire on my audi last week because of a massive pothole on a *freeway*. But as long as you get screwed by private sector everyone is happy. And then because one gov service is bad, everybody starts screaming big government is the root of all evil. For fuck sake, have you people ever tried trains in germany or healthcare in UK? USA could have been such a good country, food can be so amazing in NY and multiculturalism beats everybody else, but if people were just a little bit more sensible brained....

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 26, 2010 @07:13PM (#31634538)

    I think you're both right.

    The fix might not be to throw the government away, but it may be to throw *this* government away. The whole notion that people can keep playing "games as usual" is a bit problematic. There is no way to lawfully force a collective "vote of no confidence" in the entire executive branch and fire *all of them* at once and immediately have new elections. Every two years we can at most turn over about half the system--and that lets the last batch of people get corrupted and gain seniority and get broken in.

    But I think that's exactly what it would take to get rid of "business as usual". Most of the laws are good--but the people working on them..not so much.

    I honestly do believe that a *mass* firing of most of the political branches would send a nice little shockwave through things and possibly get us some meaningful progress again. It'd also be nice to start at organisations that are inefficient and ran by...well...asshole workers. A mass firing at a couple of state DMV's and post offices would probably do wonders for *public* morale for example, even if it would seriously disrupt daily life for a bit.

  • by Un pobre guey (593801) on Friday March 26, 2010 @07:13PM (#31634542) Homepage
    That is a political non-starter. Cap and trade will come because it creates a vast new speculative market. Look forward to iterative securitization, credit default swaps and other wacky derivatives, market cornering, toxic assets, etc. etc. etc.

    The people who will make the money in that market will be both the driving force and the authors of the legislation.
  • Re:Like patents (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Friday March 26, 2010 @07:19PM (#31634580) Journal
    I suspect one of three things(or conceivably some combination):

    Regulatory capture: Regulatory entities frequently(out of a mixture of lobbying and the human social processes that come with working together), frequently start to identify with the entities they regulate. It's like Stockholm Syndrome for bureaucracies. Either because you fear the lobbying clout of people upset with your decisions, or because you really don't want to be "not a team player", you start getting really softball regulation.

    Bad incentive structure: Defining good metrics for productivity is hard. Defining bad ones is easy. It would be totally believable that, either by design or in practice, the guy who approves 10 products in a day gets more brownie points than the guy who denies 10, or carefully researches 5.

    Intentional brokenness: A common(and quite sensible) defensive mechanism used by entities or industries that fear they will face conditions harmful to their interests(either regulation, consumer backlash, or both) is to pre-emptively "show their cooperation" by collaborating with their friends in legislature, or in "objective 3rd party" organizations produced for the purpose, to establish carefully broken softball standards that strongly resemble whatever reform they feared; but have little or none of the punch.
  • by psiogen (262130) on Friday March 26, 2010 @07:26PM (#31634650) Homepage

    After everything that's happened in the last 3 years...all the Wall Street flimflammers who wrecked the economy and got away with millions...you still think it's only government offices that are filled with shoddy work and bad incentives?

  • by Toonol (1057698) on Friday March 26, 2010 @07:37PM (#31634738)
    I logged in so I could mod you funny, but my mod points are gone. So... anyway, don't take it as a personal insult. It's just the nature of the beast. There's no REASON states need to be efficient or competitive in most fields, so they aren't.
  • by Fujisawa Sensei (207127) on Friday March 26, 2010 @07:39PM (#31634764) Journal

    Bernie Madoff stole 50 billion dollars right under the SEC and FINRA's noses. Unlike private agencies like the UL that face the threat of extinction if they ruin their brand, government agencies routinely screw up, screw the people they're supposed to protect and get more money for their failures.

    That's because the free market Republicans and Libertarians want to make sure the government can't do anything; because the market is self regulating.

    When the head of the SEC doesn't believe in regulation, you can be certain that very little will be regulated.

  • by Idiomatick (976696) on Friday March 26, 2010 @07:42PM (#31634784)
    "a secret evaluation conducted by the Government Accountability Office."

    From that I take it that you just closed your eyes and fled from this story? Government busting government doing bad things. BTW, there was nothing stopping a private company from trying this, but government did it. I guess it isn't all bad? They are improving or does that anger you? I don't know these days with anti-government types.
  • by zippthorne (748122) on Friday March 26, 2010 @07:46PM (#31634818) Journal

    To blow smoke up your own ass like that.

    Of course you don't think you're being efficient. You can only see your small piece of the puzzle. Just because your'e not loafing and your co-workers appear to be doing the same doesn't mean that you're actually efficient about whatever it is your agency is supposed to be responsible for. And that doesn't even get into the possibility that you could be very efficiently accomplishing tasks that themselves are not actually beneficial to society.

    Never underestimate the ability for a bureaucracy to appear busy, no matter how any resources it wastes. The reason people focus on government inefficiency more than corporate inefficiency (other than the obvious size difference) is that you can end your relationship with any corporation at will, whereas government has the ability to compel you under threat of life and limb, to continue to comply. You can't simply "do without" government services, the only way dissolve your involuntary obligation is emigration.

  • by khallow (566160) on Friday March 26, 2010 @07:50PM (#31634858)
    Why are you in the US, if the EU is so much better? The US is different. It isn't Germany or the UK. That traditional distrust of government may well be one of the fundamental reasons why you have a job here. And to be honest, if the government can't fix potholes in freeways, then it's going to screw up any trains or health care that it gets near.
  • by 517714 (762276) on Friday March 26, 2010 @08:54PM (#31635530)
    So you and what? three other of the govermment employees actually work? You want to know why the HOV lanes work in MD and VA? Because government employees know that they are to be at work at 8:00 and they will be leaving work at 5:00 sharp and that allows them to carpool; the rest of the white collar workers in this country routinely put in uncompensated overtime that is incompatible with carpooling.

    If you take the comment as personal insult perhap you can explain how the GAO can find this level of incompetence.

    The products I make are scrutinized every day and if they are found wanting, my customers will stop buying, and I go out of business - That is accountability!

  • by presidenteloco (659168) on Friday March 26, 2010 @08:57PM (#31635556)

    So let's say there's two of us and we only need a 12 CU FT refrigerator, but I like beer a lot so I buy a 26 CU FT Energy Star fridge.

    The standard tells me I did a good thing, but I know, deep inside, that I'm being an environmental bonehead.

    I just bought the hybrid humvee of refrigerators, and I got a gold star for it.

  • by shentino (1139071) on Friday March 26, 2010 @09:07PM (#31635678)

    The wonderful thing is that we live in a country where being rude to the government gets you no more punishment than a retort and possible loss of face among peers.

    Recently I watched a video of Bush getting the living crap booed out of him at Obama's inauguration. I think it reflects badly on americans in general. However, seeing the booers not getting mowed down by tanks made me very proud to be an american.

  • by 517714 (762276) on Friday March 26, 2010 @09:25PM (#31635840)
    Let's tally this up - Six figure salary, Drives an Audi, Lives in NYC. Yeah we are all very impressed - were you wearing an Armani suit at the time? The reason your telecommunications cost so much? You live in NYC. The reason for the shittiest service ever? You Live in NYC! The reason you got a flat? You LIVE in NYC! Do you see a pattern emerging yet? NYC is not a microcosm of the US - it is an aberration.
  • by Lost+Found (844289) on Friday March 26, 2010 @09:34PM (#31635908)

    Yeah, that's a good thing, but that free speech we all value is constantly being eroded by the government we elect to defend it. I wonder how the founding fathers would have felt about free speech zones, having to get a permit to hold a protest, or enormous government spy agencies monitoring the communications of Americans en masse, categorizing them as "threats" based on political views or affiliations.

    Don't forget that presidents in this century and the last jailed people merely for opposing their wars.

    Yeah, the booers aren't getting mowed down by tanks. But my pride as an American comes from the fact that we still have a few citizens left that realize even that freedom is under assault.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 26, 2010 @10:21PM (#31636298)

    And to be honest, if the government can't fix potholes in freeways, then it's going to screw up any trains or health care that it gets near.

    You're completely missing the point, most likely intentionally. You're saying that if the government can't fix the potholes with its current funding, then giving it more funds won't let it do more. He's pointing out that in countries with higher taxes, they have better government roads and services. Your point makes no sense, his is empirical.

  • by repetty (260322) on Friday March 26, 2010 @11:22PM (#31636712) Homepage

    > Deregulation of the cellphone market is a rather famous example of
    > where deregulation worked really well--it's an awful lot cheaper
    > now than it used to be.

    Well, that and a half-dozen other major factors. In fact, the cell phone market is MUCH cheaper all around the entire world than it once was. What was your point, again?

    I love competition as much as the next guy but don't toot your little horn too loudly about deregulation success stories or someone will quote you one fantastic deregulation failure to match everyone one of your successes.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 26, 2010 @11:31PM (#31636780)

    40-60%?

    as a Canadian, I now wonder if you are pulling numbers out of your ass.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 27, 2010 @12:03AM (#31637014)

    http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/tx/ndvdls/fq/txrts-eng.html [cra-arc.gc.ca]

    Highest tax rate in Canada according to this is 29% (on income over 127K canadian). Highest provincial tax rate quoted there was 17.5% on income over 62k. That makes 46.6% (presuming both are taken on the gross wages). The lowest rates are roughly 15% federal, 5% provincial giving 20% on the gross.

    Where exactly do you get 40-60 percent from? I also doubt the 'word of your friend living in the UK' - I lived there for years and had the fastest service I've ever seen, never a question of whether I needed anything. From surgery to consultation was scheduled in short order and delivered on time. Moving to the US healthcare has been a nightmare, having to fight the provider for every test, procedure etc that my doctor tells me I should have.

    So, basically, you're full of shit.

  • Re:Like patents (Score:3, Insightful)

    by slinches (1540051) on Saturday March 27, 2010 @12:18AM (#31637090)

    Actually, I can't think of a single seal of approval, or certification, that means anything.

    How about FAA certification? There's extensive testing and verification required for commercial aircraft to be in compliance with the FAA regulations [gpoaccess.gov]

  • by dynamo52 (890601) on Saturday March 27, 2010 @12:30AM (#31637146)

    These quotes are direct from wikipedia or, in the absence of a wikipedia article, from the first source I could find

    The Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA), also known as the Financial Services Modernization Act of 1999, (Pub.L. 106-102, 113 Stat. 1338, enacted November 12, 1999) is an act of the 106th United States Congress (1999-2001) which repealed part of the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933, opening up the market among banking companies, securities companies and insurance companies. The Glass-Steagall Act prohibited any one institution from acting as any combination of an investment bank, a commercial bank, and/or an insurance company.

    Sounds like that could cause problems... no, wait, it already has!

    The Telecommunications Act of 1996 was the first major overhaul of United States telecommunications law in nearly 62 years, amending the Communications Act of 1934.

    OK, I'll give them this one.

    The Energy Policy Act of 1992 (EPACT) created a framework for a competitive wholesale electricity generation market and established a new category of electricity producer, the exempt wholesale generator (EWG). These EWGs were not subject to the constraints on nonutility electricity generation specified in the Public Utility Holding Company Act, which made it easier for them to enter the wholesale electricity market. The law also mandated that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) open up the national electricity transmission system to wholesale suppliers on a case-by-case basis.

    stripping many environmental protections along with it

    The Natural Gas Wellhead Decontrol Act of 1989 (NGWDA) required the removal of all price ceilings dictated by the Natural Gas Policy Act of 1978 (NGPA) by January 1, 1993, rather than by the end of the century as called for in the NGPA.

    Allowing energy companies to make more money.

    The Bus Regulatory Reform Act of 1982 addresses in Section 6 the issue of transborder trucking. It imposes a moratorium on the issuance of certificates or permits to motor carriers domiciled in, or owned or controlled by persons of, a contiguous foreign country.

    Though they will rally against the same concept as instituted by NAFTA to stir anti-immigrant sentiment.

    The Garn-St. Germain Depository Institutions Act of 1982 (Pub.L. 97-320, H.R. 6267, enacted 1982-10-15) is an Act of Congress, that deregulated the Savings and Loan industry. This Act turned out to be one of many contributing factors that led to the Savings and Loan crisis of the late 1980s.

  • Re:Like patents (Score:4, Insightful)

    by michaelhood (667393) on Saturday March 27, 2010 @03:50AM (#31637808)

    "You'd think that they wouldn't default to giving away their (supposedly) valuable seal of approval, though."

    Actually, I can't think of a single seal of approval, or certification, that means anything. The longer the "standard" has been around, the worse it is. It's all nonsense, IMHO. Reading reviews that real customers have written has proved more effective than looking for some certification which no one understands, and was likely paid for with cash money anyway.

    Except that there is a difference between private certifications and Energy Star because our tax dollars subsidize the purchases of Energy Star qualified products [energystar.gov].

  • by Uberbah (647458) on Saturday March 27, 2010 @05:21AM (#31638134)

    So you and what? three other of the govermment employees actually work?

    Yes, way to hate on your fellow workers. Smashing, yeah corporatism.

    You want to know why the HOV lanes work in MD and VA? Because government employees know that they are to be at work at 8:00 and they will be leaving work at 5:00 sharp and that allows them to carpool; the rest of the white collar workers in this country routinely put in uncompensated overtime that is incompatible with carpooling.

    Get over your inflated egos and form a union then. Funny how the fuck-you-I-got-mine attitude only applies to people who climb the corporate ladder, not workers who bargain for better compensation and fewer hours.

  • by Tom (822) on Sunday March 28, 2010 @05:41AM (#31646288) Homepage Journal

    Why do we even have a government agency to put a damn energy star sticker on the side of an appliance? Simply make all manufacturers print the power draw of their item on the side of the package.

    Because if you leave it to the "free market" you are actually leaving it not to a market, but to marketing, which means the customer will be fucked in two dozen ways, at least five of which you never thought possible before. Among other things they will hide it in unreadable script, invent new metrics to cover up the true meaning, of course the numbers themselves will come from rigged "tests" and have a very distant relationship to reality, if at all. You will probably find tiny-print "this appliance uses 18 gublinks per ortung of energy" under a huge, green "environmentally friendly certified (by our own in-house bullshit institute" sticker.

    I'd rather have a government agency that fucks up, but at least it fucks up equally for everyone.

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