PEER group: EPA's survey is a stab at spinning science

WASHINGTON: A piece of an Environmental Protection Agency communications plan has come under fire by advocacy group Public Employees for Environmental Research (PEER).

WASHINGTON: A piece of an Environmental Protection Agency communications plan has come under fire by advocacy group Public Employees for Environmental Research (PEER).

PEER is taking aim at a survey that the EPA, working with JDG Communications, sent to news editors to gauge their awareness and perceptions of EPA research.

Jeff Ruch, executive director of PEER, called the tactic "illegal and ill-advised."

"In our view, the EPA is misusing dollars that would otherwise go to scientific research," he said. "Science doesn't need spin."

But Donna Vincent Roa, public affairs director at the EPA, claimed that the agency is only trying to benchmark best outreach practices. It has also surveyed focus groups and influencers.

"We'll never be able to spin - the scientist has to give me his or her blessing that I'm telling his or her story correctly," said Roa, who authored the survey. "Let's not criticize science communications efforts. We have the potential to affect public health and the lives of people."

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