The Environmental Data & Governance Initiative (EDGI) is a research collaborative and network of diverse professionals promoting evidence-based policy-making and public interest science that advances the Environmental Right to Know (ERTK).

We document, contextualize, and analyze current changes to environmental data and governance practices through multidisciplinary and cross-professional collaborative work; foster the stewardship and expansion of public knowledge through building participatory civic technologies and infrastructures; create new communities of practice to enable government and industry accountability; and promote models and tools that emphasize community participation at all scales, both within EDGI and in our public-facing tools.

Forming in November 2016 to document and analyze changes to vulnerable federal environmental data and governance practices under the Trump administration, EDGI has grown into the preeminent watchdog tracking and assessing modifications to federal environmental information resources and their accessibility; a national leader in highlighting Trump’s impacts on environmental, data, and information policies and practices; and the forerunner in developing a new field of inquiry and critique: environmental data justice. 

Our work has garnered national and international media coverage, appearing in major outlets like The New York Times, The Guardian, The Washington Post, Time, and CNN. Some of our notable successes include:

  • We documented and sounded the alarm when the Trump administration removed climate change pages from federal websites.
  • We documented the reduction in the term “climate change” across federal websites under Trump, finding an almost 40% decrease between 2016 and 2020. 
  • We documented the significant declines in the EPA’s enforcement of Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act, and other federal environmental laws under Trump.
  • Our open-source comparison software was integrated into the Internet Archive's Wayback Machine as the feature, “Changes”, allowing the public to see the differences between any two versions of the 525 billion webpages the Wayback Machine has stored.
  • We co-created a searchable public repository of EPA disclosures obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, a collaboration with the Sierra Club, Toxic Docs, and other environmental groups.
  • Recommendations we provided on the EPA’s ECHO database initiated the creation of a new system enabling the public to subscribe to permit violation notifications for areas of concern.
  • A timely EDGI report brought attention to the EPA data gaps and disparities that undermine new and forthcoming environmental justice tools.
  • Our Environmental Enforcement Watch notebooks have been used to help communities write more informed public comments, to generate “report cards” on enforcement and compliance for legislators’ districts, and in workshops with community members and journalists.
  • Our open letter to the EPA, imploring the agency not to sunset a public web archive with hundreds of thousands of environmental documents, resulted in the EPA announcing a year long extension.

Read more about our work in our 2022 Annual Report or on our Working Groups' pages.