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Free Government Information (FGI) is a place for initiating dialogue and building consensus among the various players (libraries, government agencies, non-profit organizations, researchers, journalists, etc.) who have a stake in the preservation of and perpetual free access to government information. FGI promotes free government information through collaboration, education, advocacy and research.

John Oliver again nails it re environmental racism. Oh and EPA is sunsetting its online archive

John Oliver is a national hero, always talking about issues of importance in clear and exasperatingly funny ways. Take last night’s show in which he highlighted “environmental racism” – a term used to describe environmental injustice that “occurs within a racialized context both in practice and policy” (thanks wikipedia!). He clearly shows the connection with historical “red lining” — in which people of color were, through official government policy(!), denied the ability to purchase homes in certain areas and therefore kept segregated in many cities — and current environmental policy which often designates those same areas as “sacrifice zones” where heavy industry, toxic waste and superfund sites tend to be located.

Oliver does a great job in analyzing government policy, states that the Biden Administration has said publicly that it will focus on environmental justice — EPA even has an environmental justice website! — but also notes that the administration is not meeting its promises on this front and needs to do more.

One thing he failed to mention — and I don’t blame him because it is after all tangential to the issue of environmental racism — is that the EPA plans to sunset its online archive! According to the Verge article — which cites our pals at the Environmental Data and Governance Initiative (EDGI)!:

Come July, the EPA plans to retire the archive containing old news releases, policy changes, regulatory actions, and more. Those are important public resources, advocates say, but federal guidelines for maintaining public records still fall short when it comes to protecting digital assets.

It’s clear, as Oliver notes, that it’s going to take really big steps to address environmental racism. Local environmental groups will continue to be critical in pushing for changes in government policy and regulation, but they will continue to need access to environmental government information and that’s where librarians can and should do everything in their power to assist in addressing this horrible problem.

EPA Destroys Water Quality Records, Deceives Archivist of the US

Our friends at CREW (Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington) broke this story on August 7, 2020 about the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) illegally destroying records and lying about it. Oddly enough, EPA didn’t destroy records because they were damaging to the agency’s reputation or were evidence of agency misdeeds. The records were originally damaged by a water sprinkler accident. But instead of acting quickly to dry the records, they let them fester for several months and get moldy. And then they didn’t follow protocol set under federal law requiring that the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) evaluate and approve requests to destroy contaminated records. No, EPA just went ahead and destroyed the records and then the EPA lied to NARA to cover up their incompetence. This is a case that clearly points to the need for improving training and raising the profile and importance of record-keeping within agencies (2 recommendations put forth by the 2018-2020 FOIA Advisory Committee).

Americans must be able to trust that executive agencies are taking care of OUR records. Sadly, in this instance, EPA failed our trust.

The Environmental Protection Agency illegally destroyed records, deceived the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) about that destruction, and falsely blamed the coronavirus pandemic to escape accountability, according to internal documents uncovered by CREW.

via EPA Destroys Water Quality Records, Deceives Archivist – CREW.

EPA Rolls Back Environmental Regulations

We can’t let Trump roll back 50 years of environmental progress.
“On the first Earth Day in 1970, millions of Americans took to the streets to demand clean air, water and land, and advocate for a healthier and more sustainable environment. By the end of the year, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was founded…Over the past four years, the Trump administration has reversed or rolled back many policies that protected Americans’ health and environment. Under this administration, the EPA has been transformed from an agency of environmental protection to an accommodating servant of special interests”

“The Trump EPA has repealed or weakened almost 100 environmental regulations, even when affected industries have not objected to the rules. The number and speed of these repeals puts us in uncharted territory. Critical public health and worker protections are being rolled back solely to maximize corporate profits.” See: Harvard’s https://eelp.law.harvard.edu/regulatory-rollback-tracker/
‘”I was gratified to find common voice with many of my former EPA colleagues through the newly created Environmental Protection Network (EPN); within three years, the EPN has grown into a national network of more than 500 EPA alumni who volunteer their time, expertise and experience to push back against this administration’s efforts to undermine public health and environmental protections.” ‘ See Environmental Protection Network https://www.environmentalprotectionnetwork.org/

From the UK Guardian
https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/apr/22/earth-day-50-years-anniversary-environment-trump

EPA argues its blog isn’t public information, won’t change post

Possibly lost in the jaw-dropping WTF! statement where the EPA argued its blog isn’t public information is the fact that the EPA, in a PUBLIC BLOG POST ON THE INTERNET WITHIN THE EPA.GOV DOMAIN(!), had the gall to celebrate National Pollinators Week after it expanded the use of the pesticide sulfoxaflor that is considered “highly toxic” to bees. The Doublespeak severely pains this former beekeeper.

“The EPA Blog is an example of information that would not be considered disseminated by the EPA to the public,” Kevin Kirby of the EPA wrote in response to Burd.

EPA greenwashes its fracking site. EDGI documents the change

There’s a new report out from the Environmental Data & Governance Initiative (EDGI) chronicling the changes the EPA has made to its webpage on hydraulic fracturing or “fracking.” Check out the changes side by side using snapshots from the Internet Archive’s WayBack Machine.

In January this year, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) revamped its webpage on fracking. The page now promotes the interests of the fossil fuel industry at the expense of scientific knowledge and public transparency.

These edits were documented by the Environmental Data & Governance Initiative, a coalition that has tracked changes made to federal environmental websites during the Trump administration. The president has vowed to ease restrictions on fracking as part of his fossil fuel-heavy economic plan…

Some of the most significant changes to the page emphasize the economic benefits of fracking while obscuring its known risks, such as air pollution and drinking water contamination—findings the EPA’s own scientists stressed in the months preceding President Trump’s inauguration.

“[This is] one among many instances wherein the administration has deemphasized or questioned the importance or credibility of scientific knowledge and scientists,” Arnold said, noting President Trump’s “scientists on both sides” refrain regarding climate change and other environmental issues…

Some paragraphs were wholesale removed, such as one that said the EPA is working to improve our scientific understanding of fracking, and another that underscored the need to carefully manage natural gas development in tandem with its rapid development.

via The EPA Gave Its Website a Pro-Fracking Makeover – Motherboard.

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