EPA Report Can Be Information Source

August 31, 2008

Five years after its inception, EPA has released the final version of its Report on the Environment. The Report can be useful as an information source if used carefully.

However, keep in mind that the Report represents the agency's slant on the topics covered. It will be best to cross-check any facts, figures, or statements you use from the Report with other sources, if possible. It also will be important in some cases to check other EPA documents. For instance, in the Report's discussion of ground-level ozone, EPA relies on numbers related to its largely outdated 1-hour standard. However, for the crucial task of determining violations of the standard, the EPA uses its 8-hour standard. It would be helpful to clarify such discrepancies with EPA staff before using the Report's information. Another thought to keep in mind is that some of the EPA text emphasizes long-term trends. However, in a number of cases, this masks little or no change in recent years.

For additional perspective on some of the same topics, check out the recent and upcoming publications of the H. John Heinz III Center for Science, Economics and the Environment. A major update is expected this year.

Suggestions for developing additional important information that can be used by EPA, Heinz, and others are included in a 2006 publication, "Filling the Gaps: Priority Data Needs and Key Management Challenges for National Reporting on Ecosystem Condition." For the report, and related Heinz activities, visit here.