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EPA’s 2008 Report on the Environment A Key Resource for the American People on the Environment

Release Date: 05/20/2008
Contact Information: Suzanne Ackerman, 202-564-4355 /

(Washington, D.C. – May 20, 2008) Founded in 1970, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is a young federal agency, compared to other agencies that date back to the 1800’s. Part of an agency’s growing process is finding the best ways to measure and report on its progress. Therefore, EPA today released its 2008 Report on the Environment (EPA 2008 ROE), an important resource that citizens can use to better understand trends in the condition of the air, water, and land and related changes in human health and the environment in the United States. The EPA 2008 ROE will also be a valuable resource that can inform and focus EPA activities to improve and protect America’s environment.

The EPA 2008 ROE uses scientifically sound indicators to measure and report on overall progress toward protecting the environment and human health. An environmental indicator must be quantifiable and provide valuable information on the condition of air, land, water, human health, or ecological condition. For example, one water ROE environmental indicator is the percentage each year of public or community water systems that have reported no violations of EPA health-based standards.

This report and the indicators it contains were created in an open and transparent manner. The agency took the extraordinary step of having the proposed indicators reviewed in a public forum to determine if citizens- -not just scientists- -believed the proposed indicators provided the kind of information that was useful, and were supported by technically sound data. From the ROE, EPA and the public will know better where the United States needs to focus future work and resources.

It is important to note that the EPA 2008 ROE is not intended as a “report card.” There are both positive and negative trends contained in the report. The purpose of the EPA 2008 ROE is to create a reliable set of information that can be used for year-to-year comparisons as well as planning. It is hoped that in the future, EPA will be able to look at the trends of ROE environmental indicators over a span of years, similar to the analysis done on the 20 years of data in the Toxics Release Inventory.

EPA 2008 ROE could also lead to the development of new indicators, new monitoring strategies, and new programs and policies in areas EPA determines to be highly important based on measured environmental trends.

Later this year, EPA will also publish the 2008 Report on the Environment: Highlights of National Trends
(2008 ROE Highlights), which summarizes highlights of the EPA 2008 ROE without all of the technical detail. EPA is committed to releasing periodic updates of the ROE and its indicators so that up-to-date information on environmental conditions and trends is available to the American public.

EPA’s 2008 Report on the Environment: