A mere 2,705 days after President George W. Bush was inaugurated, the White House has decided to check in on how the environment is doing. Four federal agencies have been directed to develop environmental indicators that will ostensibly be used to analyze national trends and evaluate policies. The first project, which won’t be released until 2009, will track amount and quality of U.S. water. But lack of information isn’t really the problem, say critics. “It would be nice if they put as much effort into protecting the environment as they are collecting the data to show how polluted it is,” says Richard Wiles of the Environmental Working Group. “There are plenty of data out there we can go to right now that will tell us everything we need to know to protect rivers and streams.” For example, the private Heinz Center — which receives some federal funding for compiling ecosystem data — determined Tuesday that virtually every stream in the U.S. is contaminated in some way.
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