Date of this Version
To accomplish its mission, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) must pay close attention to trends in the condition of the nation’s air, water, and land, and to associated trends in human exposure and health and the condition of ecological systems. Data on environmental trends serve two key purposes: they provide valuable input to EPA in developing its strategic outlook and priorities, and they allow EPA and the public to assess whether the Agency is succeeding in its overall mission to protect human health and the environment. EPA prepared this Report on the Environment (ROE) to accomplish these purposes.
In 2001, EPA embarked on a bold initiative to assemble, for the first time, an extensive set of environmental indicators that are important to its mission. EPA presented these indicators in its Draft Report on the Environment Technical Document, released in 2003. Since then, EPA has revised, updated, and refined the ROE in response to scientific developments and to feedback from public stakeholders and EPA’s Science Advisory Board (SAB). EPA’s 2008 Report on the Environment presents the results of this work.
The 2008 ROE compiles, in one place, the most reliable indicators currently available to answer 23 questions that EPA believes are of critical importance to its mission and the nation’s environment. The indicators are supported by data gathered from federal and state agencies and non-governmental organizations. All of the indicators were peer-reviewed to meet exacting standards for accuracy, representativeness, and reliability. This 2008 ROE presents trends wherever adequate data are currently available, and it establishes reliable national baselines where they are not. Equally important, the report identifies key limitations of these indicators and gaps where reliable indicators do not yet exist. This report does not propose actions to reduce data limitations or fill gaps, nor does it analyze the costs and benefits of doing so.