We cannot talk about many of the best things we do at PEER. Working behind the scenes, we have saved the careers of hundreds of conscientious public servants, often by talking them out of publicly blowing the whistle and convincing them to work through PEER to expose a problem.
Here are ten things we can talk about from the past year as PEER worked directly with our clients and supporters to protect public employees and our environment by –
- Exposing widespread removal of vital hazard data from EPA’s new and existing chemical assessments. These revelations, in turn, sparked a wide-ranging Inspector General investigation into insidious industry influence over the agency’s chemical assessment process. These efforts are aimed at reforming vital a new program to protect millions from toxic exposures that has gone badly awry.
- Opening a drive for “Plastic-Free” national parks by banning disposable plastic water bottles and putting parks on a plastic-reduction diet. Besides helping to “green” national parks, we made progress on our efforts to limit noisy, disruptive tourist overflights and curb conflicts with motorized electric bikes on park trails.
- Documenting the enormous national footprint now occupied by unregulated toxic PFAS. We also showed the presence of PFAS in aerially-sprayed pesticides sprayed across millions of acres and how the presence of PFAS in insecticides used for pet collars harms dogs and cats.
- Acting to curb destructive public range livestock practices by creating a database using official records documenting that, due to overgrazing, 40% of all BLM grazing allotments fail minimum landscape health standards for quality of water, soil, and vegetation. This effort illustrates why overgrazed lands cannot be considered conserved for purposes of the Biden 30×30 initiative. The database also offers BLM tools to bring its rangeland management into the 21st Century.
- Leading a national campaign to rid firefighter turnout gear of toxic PFAS chemicals. PFAS are associated with damage to the liver and kidneys, as well as heightened risk of testicular and kidney cancer, leading causes of firefighter mortality.
- Helping stop a Trump move to allow the use of radioactive phosphor-gypsum to build highways. This dangerous scheme was a big giveaway to the fertilizer industry over the objections of EPA’s staff experts.
- Completing our successful drive to completely rid Malibu public schools of toxic PCBs. Our lawsuit on behalf of teachers, students, and parents was a big factor behind the passage of a bond issue to replace old contaminated facilities.
- Pushing back on Western states conducting a war on wolves and other predator populations. We also exposed illegal efforts to block voter-approved wolf reintroduction in Colorado.
- Aiding the staff of Colorado’s air pollution agency in blowing the lid off of shoddy and illegal practices that make the Denver metro area an ozone non-attainment nightmare.
- Blowing the whistle on the failure to test for deadly radon gas in thousands of public housing units across the country, contrary to the Department of Housing & Urban Development’s own policies.
Besides these achievements, we continued to render direct assistance to scores of confidential whistleblowers and internal activists. We robustly used Freedom of Information Act litigation as part of a wide-ranging transparency program guided by insider sources. Through these and other methods, we help public servants exercise their Free Speech rights to communicate concerns to their true employers – you, the public.