The growing concern with the environmental effects of acid rain has spawned a number of study groups in recent years, and now the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) has released what is essentially a study of a study. In January 1982, White House Science Advisor George Keyworth asked William Nierenberg, Director of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, and a panel of nine scientists to conduct a peer review of three separate reports on acid deposition in eastern North America that had been turned in by U.S.-Canadian scientific working groups.
Those studies had been requisitioned by a 1980 Memorandum of Intent between the United States and Canada regarding transboundary air pollution. Overall, the Nierenberg peer review panel was “impressed with the efforts of the United States-Canadian Working Groups,” (labeled Groups 1, 2, and 3B), but it also found problems. While applauding the work groups' exhaustive search through the acid rain literature, the Nierenberg panel cited what they call an “overdependence on ‘soft’ literature,” or writings such as in-house reports and personal communications, which are outside the publicly available (and carefully scrutinized) body of scientific literature.