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Report on the Environment

Basic Information

What is the ROE?

The Report on the Environment (ROE) site presents a comprehensive collection of environmental and human health indicators. The site serves to inform the public about where progress is being made and where challenges remain in the areas of health and environmental protection.  EPA also uses this information to plan its future projects and priorities (see the EPA Strategic Plan).

Latest Edition (2008)- The ROE is comprised of two published reports:

  • Cover of the ROE 2008 ReportEPA's Report on the Environment (ROE): this 2008 final report presents indicators that help answer questions of importance to EPA’s mission to protect the environment and human health. It also discusses important limitations of these indicators and gaps when adequate indicators are not available. The ROE Final Report 2008 is available to download as a single report or by chapter.

  • Cover of the ROE HD 2008 ReportEPA's Report on the Environment: Highlights of National Trends (ROE-HD) : this 2008 highlight report is a shorter version that describes national environmental and health trends for the general public. Its content is drawn from the ROE. The ROE-HD Final Report 2008 is available to download as a single report or by chapter.

Both reports are presented with five chapters specifically addressing: Air, Water, Land, Human Exposure and Health, and Ecological Condition. For each of the five chapters, EPA identified a set of priority questions that are relevant to the Agency’s mission to protect the environment and human health. The ROE web site draws content from both reports as an on-line tool.

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Evolution of the ROE Program

Cover of the ROE 2003 ReportTo accomplish its mission to protect human health and the environment, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) must pay close attention to trends in the condition of the nation’s air, water, and land, as well as related trends in human health and ecological systems.

To meet this need, EPA embarked on a bold initiative in 2001 to assemble, for the first time, the most reliable available indicators of national environmental and health conditions and trends that are important to EPA’s mission. EPA initially presented these indicators in the Draft Report on the Environment Technical Document (EPA/600/R-07/045F) (PDF, 453 pp, 13Mb, About PDF, and the publicly oriented companion document, Draft Report on the Environment(PDF, 167pp, 42Mb, About PDF), both released in 2003.  

Since 2003, EPA has revised, updated, and refined the 2003 ROE in response to scientific developments, as well as feedback from EPA’s Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) and stakeholders. As a result, the latest edition -featured thoughout this site - provide both an update and an improvement over the 2003 draft editions.

In 2008, EPA released the current EPA's Report on the Environment (EPA/600/R-07/045F) in May with the companion report, EPA's Report on the Environment: Highlights of National Trends (EPA-260-R-08-002) in June.

EPA anticipates that the indicators comprising the main content of the ROE will be updated with new data points annually on the web if the data are available.  Depending on what is available, new indicators may also be added to the ROE dynamic website. 

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How was the report organized?

The report was organized around five main chapters: “Air,” “Water,” “Land,” “Human Exposure and Health,” and “Ecological Condition.” These five chapters relate to EPA’s five strategic goals at the time of the writing of this report, they were Clean Air, Clean and Safe Waters, Healthy Land, Healthy Communities and Ecosystems, Stewardship and Complianc. This ensure the ROE will focus on issues important to EPA’s mission to protect human health and the environment.

  • ROE chapters: Each chapter is organized around a set of (23) questions that EPA considers to be important and relevant to its mission.They are Air (Chapter 2), Water (Chapter 3), Land (Chapter 4), Human Health (Chapter 5), and Ecological Condition (Chapter 6).

  • ROE questions: For each question, the ROE:
    • Describes the issues covered by the question. These issues include EPA’s regulatory responsibilities, as well as areas where the Agency conducts or sponsors research, exerts policy leadership, provides information to the public, or shares an interest in human health and the environment with its federal, state, and tribal partners.
    • Presents indicators that are available to help answer the question; discusses critical indicator gaps that prevent the question from being fully answered; and reviews the challenges to filling these gaps.
  • ROE indicators: All indicators presented in the ROE were peer-reviewed against an indicator definition and criteria to ensure that they are useful, objective, transparent, and scientifically reliable. Each indicator describes what the data show and any limitations that generate uncertainty in the trend characterized by the indicator.

The following sections surround the five main ROE chapters:

What is the differences between the 2008 report and the 2003 draft report?

Since EPA released the first edition of the ROE as a draft report in 2003, a number of changes have been incorporated into the 2008 report in response to comments on the 2003 draft. The major changes are:

  • Questions: The ROE questions were revised to present a more consistent format and comprehensive coverage of EPA’s interests across chapters (topics).
  • Indicators: The indicator definitions and criteria were revised. As a result, several changes were made to the 2003 indicators, including combining some indicators and deleting others. Also, new indicators were added that were not available for the 2003 version of the report.
  • Indicator placement: Indicators of health or environmental effects that are linked predominantly to a single medium (air, water, land) were moved from the human exposure and health or ecological condition chapter to the relevant medium’s chapter.
  • Spatial scale: National-level indicators were the focus of the 2003 Draft ROE and continue to be the focus in this 2008 ROE. However, the 2008 ROE demonstrates how relevant indicators might be identified, developed, and presented at finer geographic scales.

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