Monday, April 16, 2012

DEPs in PA and NJ fire back at enviros' river report


Environmental groups in many states love to crank out reports that remind the public that much work remains to be done to return the planet to conditions that prevailed when Adam and Eve were its sole inhabitants.

The reports generally a prepared by a single consulting organization that gathers its statistics from annual disclosures  that industries are required to make to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Participating environmental groups at the state level slap their names on the report and plug their officers' names into pre-formatted quotes generated by the consultant.

The impression left is that the local organization is responsible for the study (they are not) and that the local group is disclosing data that otherwise would be unknown (it's all on the public record available on various agency websites). 

There's nothing essentially wrong, we guess, with such truth-stretching. The reports provide important information that most folks would not go looking for on their own and it spotlights the existence of local environmental organizations that rely, for the most part, on donations from businesses and individuals who care about the environment. Keeping their brand in the public eye helps keep the donations rolling in.

The problem is that the report writers are skilled at presenting the facts in ways that suggest that Adam and Eve escaped just in time, leaving the rest of us to be slowly poisoned by increasingly toxic levels of pollution. And that regulatory agencies at the federal and state level, that are supposed to be protecting the environment, are sitting by idly as Mother Earth writhes in torture.

The truth is that the environment is steadily improving and has been for decades. This is due, in large part due to those regulatory agencies that the reports impute to be impotent and, yes, also to those environmental activists who believe that the best way to insure additional improvements is to issue alarming reports that keep their donors scared and writing checks.

In Pennsylvania and New Jersey, where Democratic administrations held sway for a long time, the states' Department of Environmental Protection rarely ever took exception to the reports. Their leaders, or the folks in the governor's office to whom they reported, were reluctant to challenge environmental organizations regardless of how blatantly they bent the truth.

That is not the case today. Republican governors are in office and their respective DEPs are less inclined to sit back and take their annual bashing with clenched teeth.

Express-Times reporter Douglas B. Brill (no relation) writes today about Pennsylvania DEP Secretary  Mike Krancer's reaction to the enviro-report Wasting our Waterways 2012.  Brill also includes quotes from New Jersey DEP Spokesman Larry Ragonese.

What's your take on this? Is spin for a good cause OK? Let us know in the comment box below. If one is not visible, activate it by clicking on the tiny 'comments' line.


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