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E-M:/ PEER PRESSURE



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Enviro-Mich message from Rob Perks <rperks@peer.org>
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FYI -- Michigan is one of the states featured in this new PEER white
paper!!
(The executive summary and order form for "Murky Waters" is available at
www.peer.org/murky.html)

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For immediate release: Tuesday, May 25, 1999
Contact: Todd Robins (202) 265-7337

CLEAN  WATER  PROGRESS  IN  DOUBT

AGENCY INSIDERS SAY OFFICIAL REPORTS ARE "ALL WET"

Washington, DC.... Official claims of cleaner rivers and streams over
the past two decades cannot be supported due to a lack of reliable,
scientifically verifiable information, according to a report written by
specialists within the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and
released today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility
(PEER).

The PEER report, entitled Murky Waters, gives an insider account of how
EPA and its State partners, through a mix of politics, bureaucratic
inertia and bad science, perpetuate the fiction that official water
quality reports are valid by routinely presenting Congress and the
public with conflicting, erroneous and manipulated data containing
little accurate information on the actual condition of the nation's
waterways.

Despite the Clean Water Act's 1972 mandate to create a water quality
inventory to measure progress in cleaning the nation's waters today, the
data simply does not exist to indicate whether the nation's rivers and
streams are truly becoming cleaner or more polluted, and why.  As
detailed by PEER's report, reported improvements in water quality are
far more likely the result of data-rigging than actual pollution
reduction:

		* States are free to manipulate numbers in order to
portray continuing water quality progress when, in fact, what
fragmentary reliable data that exist suggest the opposite.  

		* States have no incentive to deliver accurate or
consistent water quality reports to EPA.  As a result, inconsistencies
in miles of waters monitored as well as how impairment is measured,
produce little of value in determining national water quality trends;

		* States are reporting one set of rosy data on water
quality conditions for national inventory purposes and, in the same
year, issuing different, more pessimistic numbers in order to obtain
federal watershed restoration funds.

"EPA has yet to reject a state water quality report no matter how
incomplete or scientifically invalid," said PEER General Counsel Todd
Robins. "EPA even allows states to simply ignore reporting requirements
altogether, without any financial, administrative or regulatory
consequences," added Robins.  Murky Waters also describes how negative
critiques and scathing reviews from EPA's own regional offices, Science
Advisory Board and Office of Inspector General are routinely ignored.

This PEER report contains a set of recommendations that do not call for
more money to support water monitoring efforts but instead suggest a
re-direction of, and quality control system for, the hundreds of
millions of dollars spent each year to support the current dubious
reporting regime.

- - END - -

PEER is a national alliance of state and federal employees working to
improve the environmental performance of their own pollution control,
land management or wildlife protection agencies.


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