LETTER FROM OUR COORDINATING COMMITTEE
We are very grateful to present this annual report for fiscal year 2022. In the midst of the intensifying climate emergency and growing evidence about the dangers of pollution, we are relieved to see the federal government working to address environmental injustices, especially for communities disproportionately burdened.
We are coming to realize however just how difficult it has become to turn the “ship” of environmental data production and governance around to favor communities – especially disadvantaged ones – over polluters, despite having an administration that declares its intent to do so.
Still, we enter 2023 hopeful. EDGI has maintained its critical role as a watchdog, checking the rhetoric and public intentions of our federal government against the realities of our permission-to-pollute system of environmental governance; our relationships with agencies like the EPA and NASA are strengthening; network members are showing up to drive this work forward; and, in partnership with communities, we see that systemic change is on the horizon.
We made significant contributions in 2022. Our open letter to the EPA, co-authored by the Sierra Club and other groups, warned against the sunsetting of a critical public archive and resulted in the agency announcing a year long extension and review. We co-developed and debuted a publicly-accessible database of Freedom of Information Act EPA disclosures. Our feedback on multiple public EPA environmental tools led to improvements. And a timely EDGI report brought attention to the EPA data gaps and disparities that undermine new and forthcoming environmental justice mapping tools.
We also launched a new organizational strategy developed over the past year to increase our impact and more explicitly support the advancement of a critical component of environmental justice: the Environmental Right to Know (ERTK). Following the guidance of the Louisville Charter, the vision of the ERTK that we pursue is a “right to know, participate, and decide,” emphasizing the agency of impacted communities that uses information as a cornerstone for meaningful participatory governance.
It’s clear that the federal data practices and policies of yesterday won’t suffice. Inadequacies in our environmental and information policies persist, leaving critical data vulnerable and inaccessible, environmental conditions unknown, and communities without the necessary resources for protecting their wellbeing and effecting change. We will continue advocating for, envisioning, and prototyping infrastructures for environmental data governance that strengthen the ERTK, and help ensure that progress towards real environmental justice – with communities – is made possible.
We are grateful for your support as we pursue this vision, and excited for the year to come. Thank you for being a part of this movement.
– EDGI’s Coordinating Committee
- Our open letter to the EPA, warning against their planned sunsetting of a critical public web archive with hundreds of thousands of environmental documents, resulted in the EPA announcing a year long extension and review.
- We presented on the importance of information policy and the protection of information and its integrity at the Internet Archive’s event ‘Building Democracy’s Library’.
- Our feedback on multiple public environmental tools prompted the EPA to make improvements, including adding a new ECHO Notify feature that enables the public to subscribe to permit violation notifications.
- In collaboration with the Sierra Club and Toxic Docs we debuted a publicly-accessible searchable repository of Freedom of Information Act EPA disclosures.
- We created auto-updating “report cards” for every congressional district in the United States showing permit violations across the Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act, and Resource Conservation and Recovery Act.