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The Department of Energy has been getting some great publicity—-definitely on this blog—-this month for its gigantic Solar Decathlon competition sprawled across the National Mall. But as DOE officials were shaking hands, making announcements, and touring various homes, someone in their department managed to leak an important, internal document to the New York Times.

Yesterday, the newspaper broke the story that many products given the Energy Star label may very well be undeserving of the distinction, according to an internal audit.

The Department is allowing companies to self-inspect and certify some of their own products. And it is not monitoring whether companies that improperly labeled products are correcting their practices.

This is, of course, a problem for several reasons: Under the stimulus bill, consumers are getting tax credits for purchasing green products. (I wrote about one example of this, white roof paint, a few months back.) And the federal government is currently spending tons of money retrofitting old public buildings to be more energy efficient—I’m assuming, with some of these inaccurately represented “green” products.

To be fair, some products are under the proper review. Others not so much: The Times story also notes that the DOE promised in 2007  that it “would conduct ‘retail assessments’ to ensure that all the products carrying the Energy Star logo deserved them, it is still not doing so for windows, doors, skylights, water heaters and solid-state lighting.”

Image by Sun Dazed, Flickr Creative Common