We cannot discuss 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 –
- Combatting Climate Change across a wide range of engagements, including exposing and preventing the use of dirty energy for renewable energy credits, as part of our unfolding Climate Integrity Project. We are also seeking to block the unleashing of Alaska-heavy crude, which detonate a climate bomb much bigger than the Willow project. In addition, we are revealing the deleterious climate implications of NASA investments in revived supersonic air travel and expanded use of drones in urban areas.
- Protecting America’s national parks through –
- Litigation curbing noisy, disruptive commercial air tours across park skies. This year, our efforts resulted in the end of overflights across Mount Rushmore and Badlands national parks and significant reduction of air traffic over Hawaiʻi Volcanoes and Haleakalā. We also initiated a new suit to reduce air traffic across Golden Gate, Point Reyes Seashore, and other San Francisco Bay Area parks.
- A national battle that rescinded blanket approval of e-bikes on all park trails. Our lawsuit has forced the park service to adopt a park-by-park and trail-by-trail approach to protect park resources better and avoid user conflicts.
- Defense of one of America’s newest parks – Tule Springs Fossil Beds National Monument by showing that a proposed electric transmission corridor would destroy irreplaceable Ice Age fossils.
- Fighting to close major human and environmental exposure pathways from toxic forever chemicals called PFAS. Our efforts have resulted in a national order to remove PFAS from the lining of hundreds of millions of shipping containers, which leach into barrel contents across a spectrum of industrial, agricultural and consumer products.
- Seeking to end state-sanctioned slaughter of bears, wolves, and other predator species. We exposed the biggest aerial shooting of wildlife in Alaska history with the strafing of nearly 100 brown bears, including cubs. That revelation sparked a new drive to induce the Interior Department to adopt PEER’s rule-making petition to end federal subsidies to state game agencies that engage in excessive lethal removals that upset natural predator-prey relationships.
- Safeguarded scientific integrity in both individual and institutional settings. We successfully fended off a chemical industry scheme to stop the research of one of the nation’s most respected environmental scientists on the health effects of chemical exposure – Dr. David Carpenter, a long-tenured professor and founding Dean of the University at Albany’s School of Public Health. Our academic freedom complaint resulted in the complete restoration of his faculty privileges. On an institutional level, we are deeply involved in the effort to strengthen federal scientific integrity policies, which proved feckless during the Trump reign of “alternative facts.”
- Developed a plan to reduce whale mortality from ship strikes. Our plan lays out measures that NOAA must take immediately to prevent the extinction of three species of whales in U.S. waters – the first such extinctions in modern times in any area of the planet.
- Pressing to eliminate potent pollinator-killing insecticides from agricultural use. EPA has opened comments on our rule-making petition to require that these chemicals be proven both effective as well as safe.
- Striking major blows to restore the eco-health of America’s vast rangelands, plagued by a badly mismanaged federal commercial livestock grazing program. This year, we filed a national suit to force steps to reverse overgrazing on lands failing minimum federal landscape health standards for water, soil, vegetation, and habitat quality. We also exposed widespread non-enforcement against rampant grazing trespass and a misguided effort to confine range health assessment to satellite overflights.
- Organized more than 300 groups to join our drive to reduce our exposure to harmful chemicals from 400 incinerators burning industrial, medical, municipal solid waste, and sewage sludge, as well as pyrolysis and gasification units that spew toxic ash and gases that contaminate lands, waters, and our lungs.
- Induced the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to withhold millions of dollars in federal conservation grants being misused by Minnesota’s Department of Natural Resources to clearcut wildlife and aquatic habitat areas. Besides admitting fault, DNR must now consider the objections of its beleaguered ecological staff, which had previously been overridden.
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.