Thursday, May 10, 2007

EPA's 2007 Report on the Environment: Science Report

May 10: U.S. EPA announced in a Federal Register notice [72 FR 26629-26631] a 45-day public comment period for the draft 539-page document entitled, EPA's 2007 Report on the Environment: Science Report (ROE SR) (EPA/600/R-07/045). The public comment period is to precede the formal public, scientific peer review of the document by EPA's Science Advisory Board (SAB) on July 10-12, 2007. The public comment period begins May 10, 2007 and ends June 25, 2007.

EPA's 2007 Report on the Environment compiles the latest and most reliable indicators to help understand critical trends in the environment and human health. Additionally, the report identifies key limitations of the indicators and gaps where reliable indicators do not yet exist. The gaps and limitations highlight the disparity between the current state of knowledge and the goal of full, reliable, and insightful representation of environmental conditions and trends, and provide direction for future research and monitoring efforts. The indicators for EPA’s 2007 ROE SR, which comprise the main content of the report, underwent independent scientific peer review as well as public review and comment during the summer and fall of 2005. In addition to the EPA’s 2007 ROE SR, EPA is also producing the Highlights of Conditions and Trends document (EPA's 2007 ROE HD), which summaries the findings in an easier to understand format. The Highlights Document (HD) is undergoing a separate review under EPA's Office of Environmental Information. After the SAB and public reviews of the draft 2007 ROE SR, the comments and recommendations received from the experts and public will be considered and the resulting revisions discussed within EPA and with EPA’s Federal agency partners. EPA plans to publish the final EPA’s 2007 Report on the Environment: Science Report in late 2007.

The massive report, is written for environmental professionals and consists of five chapters: Air, Water, Land, Human Health, and Ecological Condition. The Air, Water, and Land chapters (Chapters 2, 3, and 4) focus on trends in air, water, and land media, and their effects on human health and ecological systems. The Human Health and Ecological Condition chapters (Chapters 5 and 6) follow with information on overall trends in human health and ecological systems. The latter two chapters address questions that are intrinsically affected by multiple factors across media.

For each of these five chapters, EPA identified a set of priority questions that it considers to be most important and relevant to the Agency’s mission to protect the environment and human health. The report is organized around these questions. The response to each of the questions has three components: An introduction that describes the scope of the question (see below) and provides relevant background information; A set of indicators that answer (or more often partially answer) the question; and A discussion of (1) the "answer" that the indicators collectively provide to the question; and (2) the most critical indicator gaps, limitations, and challenges that prevent the question from being fully answered.

The document concludes with Chapter 7, "Afterword," which discusses the next steps for improving indicators and summarizes the challenges to answering the questions and synthesizing and integrating information across indicators. Appendix A lists acronyms and provides a glossary of terms that have particular definitions within this document or whose definitions are not commonly available. Appendix B describes the process used to develop the 2007 ROE Science Report. Appendix C compares indicators used in the 2003 Draft ROE Technical Document with those in this 2007 version.

Access an overview and links to chapters and related information (
click here). Access the FR announcement (click here). Access the ROE website (click here). [*All]