Upcoming Workshop Reveals Documents Showing How the Trump Administration Worked to Hamper the EPA

EDGI, Toxic Docs, and Sierra Club are collecting thousands of internal government documents on the environment obtained by public interest groups through the Freedom of Information Act. The documents are available in an online repository called EDGIFOIA.

Upcoming Workshop Reveals Documents Showing How the Trump Administration Worked to Hamper the EPA

July 27th, 2022, at 1PM EST, the Environmental Data & Governance Initiative (EDGI), Toxic Docs, and the Sierra Club will release a repository of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) documents detailing how the Trump administration worked to hamper the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). These documents are the latest addition to EDGIFOIA, an initiative of EDGI, Toxic Docs, and Sierra Club to collect FOIA documents requested by environmental organizations into a single, easily searchable repository. Register for the release event here.

This addition to the repository includes documents revealing behind-the-scenes maneuvering of Trump’s first EPA administrator, deliberations that led to the dismantling of the Clean Power Plan, and how firms that took advantage of the agency’s receptiveness to industry. Documents are available on a portal on EDGI’s “A People’s EPA” website.

The EDGIFOIA repository contains thousands of federal documents successfully obtained by public interest groups under the Freedom of Information Act during the Trump administration. Documents reveal the inner workings and external interactions of major environmental agencies within the federal government, including the EPA, Department of the Interior, and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency. FOIA documents are often difficult to access; EDGIFOIA aims to make FOIA documents more searchable than current FOIA portals allow. The project is a collaboration between EDGI, the “Toxic Docs” initiative of Columbia University and CUNY, and the Sierra Club-organized Environmental FOIA Coordinating Group.

Notable documents in this latest release include:

  • A pro-energy think tank staffer’s email to the White House indicating how they tried to re-frame the administration’s repeal of the Obama-era Clean Power Plan
  • A Republican legislator’s email to the White House with a list of dissident scientists who reject the consensus that climate change is anthropogenic.
  • A staffer at the American Enterprise Institute’s email suggesting EPA administrators meet with a member of the Manhattan Institute, which has downplayed the sources of climate change and its seriousness.
  • A staffer with the Edison Electric Institute’s email providing the White House with a list of pending impact litigation to weaken the EPA, including the recently decided West Virginia v. EPA.

Learn more about the EDGIFOIA repository, including the documents highlighted above, at an upcoming workshop on July 27th, 2022, at 1PM ET. Speakers Merlin Chowkwanyun of Toxic Docs, Chris Sellers of EDGI, and Elena Saxonhouse of the Sierra Club will demonstrate how to use the repository to obtain information about federal environmental agencies. Register here

If you’re interested in further details on the FOIA repository or would like to interview lead organizers of the initiative, please contact christopher.sellers at stonybrook.edu.