EDGI’s Environmental Enforcement Watch’s catalog of open federal environmental datasets. View the page here.
By Kelsey Breseman, Megan Raisle, Eric Nost, Sara Wylie
We are excited to announce a new catalog of open federal datasets now available through EDGI’s Environmental Enforcement Watch (EEW) website. EEW works with members of the public to analyze and present EPA data on violations of environmental laws, inspections of polluting facilities, and enforcement actions taken by the EPA. So far, the EEW project has focused its analysis on EPA’s Enforcement and Compliance History Online (ECHO) data. However, ECHO is only one of many federal data tools covering environmental pollution available to the public. Our new “External Resources” page catalogs approximately forty tools, so groups and individuals can more easily find data on the topics they care about.
One of the aims of the EEW project is to help community groups self-advocate for environmental justice by making the federal government’s pollution and permit data more transparent and accessible. Over the past two years, EEW has spoken with more than 25 community organizations and has heard a broad range of concerns, many of which can be at least partially investigated using open public datasets. What we’ve heard ranges from one group’s desire to understand the possible children’s health impacts from chemicals emitted in a local area to another group’s interest in understanding which corporations are most responsible for climate change.
We have released interactive data research tools that make ECHO data easier to query for certain types of questions, but many more records are available in additional datasets. By curating a list of these other datasets—from the Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS), which documents the human health impact of certain toxic chemicals, to the Assessment, Total Maximum Daily Load Tracking and Implementation System (ATTAINS), which assesses the measured quality of surface waters—we hope to support community researchers and other users in their investigations of places and topics they care about.
We know that just pointing out these datasets is not enough. Over time, we hope to continue to work with both community groups and the managers of these federal data tools to improve community engagement with environmental governance. If you are interested in becoming involved with this project, in a technical or non-technical capacity, please reach out!