.tftD s7/w	15-P-0198
*  *	U.S. Environmental Protection Agency	July 16,2015
Office of Inspector General
At a Glance
Why We Did This Review
We evaluated how the
U.S. Environmental Protection
Agency (EPA) set and
measured specific goals for its
activities related to siting
renewable energy on potentially
contaminated land and mine
sites (hereafter referred to as
contaminated lands), such as
economic and environmental
return on investment, and
whether siting efforts ensure
short- and long-term health and
environmental protection on
these contaminated sites.
In 2008, the EPA's Office of
Solid Waste and Emergency
Response launched the
RE-Powering America's Land
Initiative, through which the EPA
encourages renewable energy
development on contaminated
lands. Renewable energy is
energy obtained from sources
that can be continually
replenished, such as solar, wind
and biomass.
This report addresses the
following EPA goal or
cross-agency strategy:
 Cleaning up communities
and advancing sustainable
For further information,
contact our public affairs office
at (202) 566-2391.
The full report is at:
Benefits of EPA Initiative to Promote Renewable Energy
on Contaminated Lands Have Not Been Established
What We Found
The EPA sets specific goals for its program
activities related to promoting and providing
education and outreach for siting renewable
energy on contaminated lands through its
RE-Powering America's Land Initiative. However,
the EPA does not have a mechanism to measure
the outcomes of accomplishing initiative goals,
nor does it have information on the return on
investment realized for the activities completed or
resources the agency stated it has invested.
EPA does not know the
benefits realized from its
efforts to promote siting
renewable energy on
contaminated lands. As a
result, the agency is unable
to demonstrate benefits
realized for the $4 million it
stated it has invested in
these efforts since 2008.
Regarding the return on investment, the EPA stated it has invested $4 million in the
initiative, including just over $2.5 million to support more than 40 feasibility studies
that provide site owners and communities with a technical and economic assessment
of installing renewable energy on a given site, and development of initiative tools.
Seventy-six percent of the studies completed showed some potential for siting
renewable energy on contaminated lands. However, the EPA was aware of only two
sites with renewable energy that benefitted from feasibility studies. Consumer
awareness or use of initiative tools could also be an indicator of return on investment.
Four of seven external parties involved with siting renewable energy on contaminated
lands with whom we spoke were unaware of the initiative or did not use the tools it
provides. Without benefits information and consumer awareness or utility, the EPA is
unable to demonstrate results of the initiative and support continuing the program.
The EPA's RE-Powering America's Land Initiative does not address human health
and environmental protection issues when renewable energy is sited on
contaminated lands. However, the initiative could refer to guidance from other EPA
programs that have such controls, including periodic reviews or monitoring, to
maintain protectiveness.
Recommendations and Planned Agency Corrective Actions
We recommend that the EPA determine whether the benefits from its renewable
energy promotion efforts demonstrate the value of the RE-Powering initiative. If
benefits cannot be demonstrated, the EPA should modify or terminate the program.
If the EPA continues with this initiative, it should establish management controls to
measure and report on progress, use available data to track and report on economic
and environmental benefits realized, and refer participants to EPA guidance covering
human health and environmental protection. The agency provided sufficient planned
corrective actions and estimated completion dates for all of our recommendations. All
recommendations are considered resolved and open with corrective actions ongoing.