EPA’s Report on the Environment: Tracking National Trends Over Time
With the cold winter still stubbornly hanging on, it’s a bit hard to believe that next week marks the beginning of the 2014 baseball season. As a life-long fan of the game, I always find it easy to slip back into the routine of reading the daily box scores each evening, keeping an eye on batting averages and other pertinent statistics, and assessing the progress of my favorite team—the New York Yankees! I am usually ready to start thinking about October travel plans to the watch playoff home games in the Bronx sometime around the All Star break.
The ability to monitor the state of my team is one of the truly gratifying aspects of baseball. Having a similar ability to assess and monitor trends when it comes to the environment is even a more gratifying aspect of meeting our mission here at EPA: to protect human health and the environment.
Today, our scientists and engineers have reached a major milestone in that area with the release of the draft Report on the Environment 2014 (ROE 2014). The draft ROE 2014 is an interactive website, full of national-level environmental and health indicators that paint a picture of how our environment is changing. The draft released today is open for public comment and scientific peer review, part of the Agency’s commitment to public engagement, transparency, and rigorous scientific vetting.
EPA researchers and their partners across the Agency designed the report to help answer important questions, and to help us track our progress meeting environmental goals. To make it useful and relevant to everyone from scientists to decision-makers, and educators to curious students, the report is presented as an easy-to-use, interactive website, providing views of the most up-to-date national (and sometimes regional) data. It also presents trends, establishes baselines where trend data do not yet exist, and highlights gaps where we don’t have reliable indicators.
The science-based indicators help us understand the health of the environment. They are simple measurements that track changes over time. For example, to better monitor the state of the nation’s air quality, researchers can quantify things such as lead emissions, acid deposition, and particulate matter concentrations. These indicators can help us make informed decisions about conditions that may otherwise be difficult to measure.
Data for the ROE indicators come from EPA as well as other federal and state agencies and non-governmental organizations. EPA brought together scientists and other experts to determine what data are accurate, representative, and reliable enough to be included in the report. With feedback from the public and our partners, we selected 86 indicators that help to answer questions about air, water, land, human exposure and health, and ecological condition. New indicators on aspects of sustainability are included for the first time in the draft 2014 report.
EPA is committed to engaging stakeholders, embracing an open and transparent process, and using the best available science for the Report on the Environment 2014. We invite you to explore the draft website and submit your thoughts and comments. Our scientists will consider such input as they take the next step to revise the draft report, and ultimately produce a final report that contains the most useful and scientifically valid indicators.
I am looking forward to watching this effort unfold as the season progresses and I make plans for a Fall visit to the Bronx. Go Yanks! Go EPA!
NOTE: The draft ROE 2014 is available here. Provide comments by going to www.regulations.gov and searching for Report on the Environment 2014 (or the Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-ORD 2014-0231). For additional information, view the Federal Register Notice.
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