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:
Exposing major human and environmental exposure pathways from PFAS. PEER has alerted EPA and the public that toxic forever chemicals called PFAS are widely present in pesticides, biosolid fertilizers, and in containers commonly used to transport foodstuffs, cleaning supplies and other goods used in all sectors of the U.S. economy. We are pressing EPA to respond.
- Protecting national parks. This year, PEER has –
- Spurred adoption of the first restraints on excessive commercial tourist overflights buzzing across skies of 20-some national parks, ranging from Mount Rushmore to Golden Gate. These management plans should have been done 20 years ago;
- Forced the Park Service to conduct environmental reviews of impacts before allowing e-bikes on park trails;
- Sparked a government plan to reduce plastics in national parks, including an ongoing effort to eliminate sales of disposable plastic bottles in all parks.
- Strengthening biosecurity at federal wildlife research labs. As illustrated by the havoc wreaked by the COVID pandemic, releases of viruses and other pathogens from wildlife disease labs can have devastating effects. This year, we won a ruling declaring a microbiologist a whistleblower for revealing breakdowns in biosafety. At the same time, we pushed USGS to adopt independent accreditation of its wildlife disease labs, not only to strengthen biosafety but to give its scientists safe channels for reporting biosecurity breakdowns.
- Preventing a new global wave of mercury pollution. After a two-year effort to prevent the use of mercury as a propellant in planned constellations of earth-orbiting satellites, we were able to eliminate a significant new source of mercury pollution from space.
- Curbing the use of a super-greenhouse gas. PEER worked with a concerned federal scientist to expose and substantially reduce the use of sulfur hexafluoride (SF6). The greenhouse gas is 22,800 times more powerful at trapping atmospheric heat over a century than carbon dioxide.
- Unmasking the dangers of chemicals. As part of our broader campaign to reform the safety review of new chemicals before they are released on the market, we revealed that EPA had hidden thousands of industry reports from the public and their own scientists about the substantial health risks from chemicals already on the market. Our subsequent legal action caused EPA to post these reports once again.
- Launching a Climate Integrity Project to blow the whistle on bogus climate and renewable energy credit scams.
- Spearheading a drive to better clean toxic sites, called “Garden Pathways,” to ensure that cleanups of toxic chemical sites are so thorough that residents can safely eat fruit and vegetables grown on these remediated sites. At the same time, we are fighting for thorough cleanups of toxic hotspots, like the Santa Susana Field Lab and Hunters Point Naval Shipyard in California.
- Tracing the climate hoofprint of BLM’s 150-million acre federal livestock program. A year’s long effort to monitor and expose the failing health of America’s rangeland culminated in an updated Interactive Rangeland Health map as well as a report on Mapping the Range. Our work to ensure sustainable public lands continues.
- Raising the red flag on red king crabs and other marine animals. Baring critical breakdowns in the integrity of NOAA Fisheries science that are imperiling marine resources in Alaskan, Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico waters.
Besides these achievements, we continued to assist 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 you, the public.