Many of the best things we do at PEER, we cannot talk about. 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 instead to expose a problem.
Looking at just the past year of 2016, here are ten things we can talk about in which PEER is proud to have made significant progress in safeguarding public health, protecting wildlife, conserving public resources or securing freedom of speech —
- Forced the National Park Service to jettison major provisions of a controversial corporate fundraising plan, such as allowing displays of corporate logos, requiring park superintendents to engage in “donor cultivation, using “philanthropic success” as a basis for promotion, and making “needs of the donor” the driving factor in crafting donor recognition agreements;
- Defended Washington State’s leading wolf expert from a campaign of harassment and threats from his university because his research findings upset the ranching industry. We also sparked an ethics investigation against a state legislator for his extortion and concerted reprisals to block peer-reviewed research showing non-lethal methods are effective in reducing wolf-livestock predation;
- Blocked the giveaway of a major national wildlife refuge and, through a negotiated settlement of our lawsuit, launched a long-overdue conservation charter for Montana’s National Bison Refuge, considered the Crown Jewel of the National Wildlife Refuge System;
- Triggered an official investigation into breakdowns of EPA safeguards against exposing young children to lead dust in older homes and apartments. Besides exposing improper and incomplete inspections of building renovations spewing lead paint chips into living quarters, we showed that EPA was improperly shredding its own enforcement files. The requirement of lead-safe repair and renovations is the product of an earlier PEER lawsuit that closed this pathway for lead exposure in 1.4 million children a year;
- Took EPA to court to force it to produce its heretofore hidden climate-denial scientific research and to expose the roots of its industry-friendly Superfund revisions produced under the façade of an agency Task Force;
- Pursued complaints from reports by U.S. Bureau of Reclamation’s own employees represented by PEER, leading to three critical audits that found more than $100 million in misspent funds that were supposed to benefit fish and wildlife in the Klamath Basin but were used to benefit irrigators to the detriment of the watershed’s fish and wildlife;
- Helped scientists expose serious deficiencies and deviations from accepted scientific standards inside the nation’s premier wildlife disease laboratory. Unless cured, these problems raise questions about the validity of its studies of animal diseases, such as White Nose Syndrome in bats and Chronic Wasting Disease in deer, elk, and moose, as well as diseases transmitted to humans, such as Avian Influenza and West Nile Virus;
- Filed a precedent-setting lawsuit to end excessive overflights across national parks. The PEER suit covers six of the most heavily trafficked national parks accounting for more than one-third of all park air tour traffic and would force the FAA to develop an air tour management plan to within the next two years;
- Exposed massive and systemic commercial timber theft and fraud stemming from The U.S. Forest Service maladministration of major timber sales on the Tongass National Forest in Alaska, causing wide-scale ecological damage and multi-million dollar losses for taxpayers; and
- Moved to protect communities and first responders from deadly chemicals released in industrial accidents. PEER is suing to enforce a never-implemented federal requirement mandating disclosure of air pollutants accidentally emitted in chemical fires, explosions, leaks, and other accidents.
Besides these individual achievements, PEER continues to protect public employees in state and federal agencies who are working to protect our environment. Through our unique methodology, PEER renders direct assistance to scores of whistleblowers and internal activists on an ongoing basis.
We also robustly use of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) litigation as part of a wide-ranging transparency program guided by insider sources.
Finally, we help public servants exercise their Free Speech rights through a variety of avenues, including providing legal and logistical assistance to an array of rogue or “Alt” Twitter Accounts which sprung up and now draw hundreds of thousands of followers.