New Report Shows Pattern Under Trump of Federal Agencies Removing Public Information Prior to Environmental Proceedings

Today, the Environmental Data & Governance Initiative (EDGI) releases Access Denied: Federal Web Governance Under the Trump Administration. The report examines the Trump administration’s management of federal websites related to environmental regulation and makes recommendations for the Biden administration moving forward. Currently, there are few policies governing website content.

Change of the Week: Story of Clean Power Plan Website Removal Underscores Need for Better Information Policies

This week’s change of the week was made in April 2017 and features the redirecting of the EPA’s Clean Power Plan website to a single webpage about a 2017 executive order on “energy independence.” We discussed this issue in our 2018 public comment on the proposed repeal of the Clean Power Plan, and it underscores the urgent need to develop better web resource policies. 

Change of the Week: Any idea why fighting wildfires is getting harder?

This week’s change was made in June 2017 and features the removal of the only sentences about climate change on the U.S. Forest Service’s Wildland Fire webpage. What happened? In the middle of wildfire season, June 2017, the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) deleted the only sentence on its “Wildland Fire” webpage that mentioned the reasons that fire seasons have become longer and more intense, “This is due to a variety of factors, including climate change, buildups of flammable vegetation, insect and disease infestations, nonnative species invasions, and increasing numbers of homes and communities in the WUI…”

Change of the Week: Access Changes to Air Research Tools

This week’s change is from earlier this summer and features a link removal from the EPA’s Air Research homepage. What happened? The main change of interest here is the removal of a link to “Integrated Science Assessments (ISAs)” from EPA’s Air Research website homepage. In addition to that link removal, the previous link text and link to “Models, Tools, and Databases for Air Research” was replaced with the “SMaRT Search online inventory of models, tools, and databases.” The previous models, tools, and databases URL now redirects to the SMaRT Search online inventory URL.

DOI Adds “Recreation” Priority and Webpage, Continues to Lack Meaningful Focus on Other Priorities

Over the last year, the Department of Interior (DOI) has adopted a new priority: through the creation of a new webpage and a series of recent announcements and orders, DOI has indicated a desire to make public lands more open for recreational (primarily hunting and fishing) uses than ever before. Though greater public control and access might be an admirable goal in some contexts, in this case it has the appearance of more of a calculated political call to a small portion of the U.S. population, at the potential cost of conservation gains for protected environments and species. The extensive harm done to public lands during the January 2019 government shutdown underscores the potentially disastrous impacts of giving the public greater access while compromising even the maintenance of those lands…