Policy Monitoring and Interviewing

The Policy Monitoring and Interviewing Working Group analyzes changes to federal environmental, energy and climate policy and institutions. We are particularly focused on agencies’ expertise, use of science, morale and culture, budgets, regulation, and the enforcement of regulations. Interviews with current and former staff, Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, agency data and documents, and other sources form the basis of our research.

We draw on our members’ expertise in history, social science, legal and political analysis, information governance and other fields. We take on both rapid responses to changes in governance and pressing political events as well as longer-term research projects. We produce in-depth reports, white papers, public comments, fact sheets, letters to Congress, and FOIA requests, among other things. We have coordinated with, or advised, other non-governmental groups and government agencies.


One of EDGI’s first initiatives was launching a confidential interviewing/oral history project to document the experiences of retired and current long-time federal environmental employees at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

Starting in December 2016, trained interview teams in Washington DC, Boston, the San Francisco Bay Area, New Jersey, Colorado, and Vermont began confidentially interviewing EPA and OSHA employees. By June of 2017, interviewers had conducted 62 interviews, and as of March 2023, we have completed over 150. 

Offering a more human and nuanced perspective on the impacts of past and present administrations on environmental agencies, our interviewing project seeks to preserve institutional memory, document the inner workings of environmental agencies under the current administration, and situate these historically. 

All interviews are confidential, with the interviewee offered a wide range of choices for exactly how strict the terms of confidentiality will be. Unless the interviewee specifies otherwise, the transcript is de-identified. Our research team has developed rigorous procedures for securely storing the audio files and interview transcripts and uses end-to-end encryption for communication and file sharing.

An Open Invitation to any and all Federal Environmental Employees

We would welcome your help! Anyone who has spent substantial time at a federal agency that deals with any environmental data and/or research (e.g. NOAA, NASA, Interior, DOE), please contact us for an interview. You can reach out to us using this Google Form, by phone at (917) 887-4244. Or, if you have a fully encrypted email account, you can copy and paste the text of the survey into the body of an email, fill it out, and send it to: EnviroDGI@protonmail.com. Learn more about sending secure email to us.

Making Use of Freedom of Information Act Requests

EDGI’s Policy Monitoring and Interviewing Working Group has also developed several Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) campaigns to (1) determine the reasons for observed changes to content and information access on public-facing government websites; (2) gather information about changes to environmental agencies and their work; and (3) collect information regarding agencies’ data collection, access, and maintenance practices. 

We coordinate our campaigns with other environmental FOIA and government transparency efforts. Our team has a partnership with MuckRock, a non-profit that has established a platform for filing, responding to, and tracking FOIA requests, as well as ToxicDocs and the Sierra Club, with whom we’ve co-created a searchable public repository for EPA FOIA disclosures. Together, we’re working to develop software tools to enable easily sharing FOIA findings and resources.

A People’s EPA (APE)

In 2020, the Policy Monitoring and Interviewing Working Group launched A People’s EPA (APE), a website dedicated to illuminating the complex history, present day struggles, and future direction of the EPA. 

The website provides public access to data, personal stories and testimony, and context to understand the EPA in the era of Trump and beyond, including oral histories with past and present EPA staff, an interactive page on the origins of the agency, and a cache of searchable federal documents obtained through FOIA by environmental organizations. 

Over time, the website will house all of EDGI’s interviews with EPA officials, long-term data on enforcement and budget at the EPA, curated historical documents and key reports, as well as historical narratives, timelines, and policy analysis. Upcoming additions will include resources on presidential transitions, agency capacity, enforcement, environmental justice, and children’s health.

APE is a collaborative project and includes resources from the Union of Concerned Scientists, the Environmental Protection Network, the Sierra Club, and other groups.

Our Work

EPA Enforcement Still Struggling to Recover Under Biden (2023)

What Went on in the Trump EPA? Announcing a New FOIA Archive (2022)

EPA and Its Offices/CEQ Cumulative Exposure Engagement by Decade (2022)

Data, Science, and Environmental Justice at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (2022)

The Carbon Tax Meets the Suburbs; Projecting the Equity Impacts of New York’s Proposed Climate and Community Investment Act (2021)

The EPA’s Commitment to Children’s Environmental Health: History and Current Challenges (2021, abstract)

The Problem of Accountability: Environmental Justice and the Trump Administration (2021, abstract)

Fifty Years After the EPA’s Formation, EDGI Releases A People’s EPA (2020)

An Embattled Landscape Series, Part 2b: The Declining Capacity of Federal Environmental Science (2020)

A Sheep in the Closet: The Erosion of Enforcement at the EPA (2018)

The Environmental Protection Agency in the Early Trump Administration: Prelude to Regulatory Capture (2018)

History of US Presidential Assaults on Modern Environmental Health Protection (2018)

Public Protections Under Threat at the EPA: Examining Safeguards and Programs That Would Have Been Blocked by H.R. 1430 (2017)

EPA Under Siege: Trump’s Transition in History and Memory (2017)

Risk Management Program Amendment Delays (2017)