Website Monitoring

EDGI is monitoring changes to tens of thousands of federal environmental agency web pages because the effects of proposed changes to federal environmental governance under the current administration could be sweeping and long-lasting. Our work here involves documenting and analyzing data that disappears from public view, and also monitoring and analyzing how data, information, and their presentation may change, sometimes in subtle but significant ways.

After an in-depth internal vetting process by our Website Monitoring Committee, we work closely with partner journalists to make sure context is provided for the change we have observed. We then aim to disseminate our reports widely so that other journalists, local governments, and environmental advocacy groups can conduct their own analyses on issues that matter to them.

Our Website Monitoring Team monitors and documents changes to federal websites, compiles reports on changes and themes, and works with journalistic partners to publish these findings.

For more information on EDGI’s website monitoring work, please contact Toly Rinberg.


 

Access Assessment Reports

5) Assessment ​of ​Removals ​and ​Changes ​in ​Access ​to ​Resources ​on the ​EPA’s ​“Climate ​and ​Energy ​Resources ​for ​State, ​Local, ​and Tribal ​Government” ​Website (screenshots)

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) | Report written: October 18, 2017 | On ​April ​28, ​2017, ​the ​EPA ​removed ​its ​website ​titled ​“Climate ​and ​Energy ​Resources ​for State, ​Local, ​and ​Tribal ​Governments.” ​Approximately ​three ​months ​later, ​a ​new ​website titled ​“Energy ​Resources ​for ​State, ​Local, ​and ​Tribal ​Governments” ​was ​launched ​in ​its place, ​with ​fewer ​pages ​and ​omitting ​Web ​resources ​relating ​to ​climate ​and ​climate ​change. All ​Web ​tools ​and ​certain ​energy ​resources ​appear ​to ​have ​been ​moved ​from ​the ​previous website ​to ​the ​new ​one, ​although ​a ​comprehensive ​comparison ​has ​not ​yet ​been conducted. ​The ​launch ​of ​the ​new ​“Energy Resources” ​website ​is ​the ​first ​example ​where ​the ​EPA ​has ​returned ​content ​following those ​April ​28th ​removals.


4) Removal of Substantial Portion of Content and Reduction in Access to Resources on the USDA’s Climate Hubs Website (screenshots)

US Department of Agriculture (USDA) | Report written: August 1, 2017 | Between the evenings of July 27 and July 28, USDA removed substantial portions of its Climate Hubs website. The web content was removed for approximately 5 days without notice or explanation and was returned following media inquiries made with the USDA based on the release of the report above.


 

3) Missing Environmental Protection Agency Endangerment Finding Web Resources

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) | Report written: July 12, 2017 | Web resources were removed from the “Endangerment and Cause or Contribute Findings for Greenhouse Gases under the Section 202(a) of the Clean Air Act” ​page​ on the EPA’s website. The lack of access to these resources likely originated from mismanagement of web resources during the EPA’s climate change website overhaul, which occurred on April 28, 2017, and not a more recent removal of content.


 

2) Removal of Information and Reduction in Access to Resources on the EPA’s Clean Water Rule Website (screenshots)

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) | Report written: June 29, 2017 | The EPA overhauled its website pertaining to the Clean Water Rule. The previous website, which extensively described the ​Clean Water Rule and its benefits​, was replaced by a website providing information about the EPA’s review of the Rule.


 

1) Change in Access to the EPA’s “A Student’s Guide to Global Climate Change” Website (screenshots)

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) | Report written: May 5, 2017 | As a result of the EPA’s Climate Change website overhaul, the “A Student’s Guide to Global Climate Change” subdomain is no longer accessible via the main EPA website and is incorrectly stated as captured in the EPA’s January 19 snapshot.


 

Content Change Reports

19) Confirmation ​of ​Changes ​to ​the ​Federal ​Emergency ​Management Agency’s ​Hurricane ​Maria ​Webpage (screenshots)

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) | Report written: October 5, 2017 |The ​Federal ​Emergency ​Management ​Agency ​(FEMA) ​removed ​statistics ​from ​the ​“Federal Response ​Updates” ​section ​on ​its ​“Hurricane ​Maria” ​webpage. ​Certain ​subsections ​and bullet ​points ​reporting ​statistical ​metrics, ​quantifying ​access ​to ​electricity ​and ​drinking water, ​were ​removed. ​Additional ​statistics, ​descriptive ​bullet ​points, ​and ​images ​were ​also updated. ​This ​report ​confirms ​the ​changes ​to ​FEMA’s ​“Hurricane ​Maria” ​webpage ​identified by The ​Washington ​Post article below.


18) Changes to Language on the Environmental Protection Agency’s SmartWay Program Website  (screenshots)

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) | Report written: September 19, 2017 | The ​EPA ​changed ​language ​on ​the ​SmartWay Program ​website, ​reducing ​mentions ​of ​carbon, ​greenhouse ​gasses, ​and ​climate change. ​Terms ​like ​“sustainability” ​and ​“emissions” ​replaced ​mentions ​of ​“carbon,” and ​emphasis ​on ​international ​SmartWay ​and ​other ​climate ​efforts ​were ​reduced.


17) Removals​ ​of​ ​Climate​ ​Change​ ​Mentions​ ​and​ ​Links​ ​from​ ​the National​ ​Institute​ ​of​ ​Environmental​ ​Health​ ​Sciences​ ​Website (screenshots)

Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) | Report written: August 20, 2017 | The​ ​National​ ​Institute​ ​of​ ​Environmental​ ​Health​ ​Sciences​ ​(NIEHS)​ ​has​ ​altered​ ​climate change​ ​language,​ ​updated​ ​climate​ ​change​ ​references,​ ​and​ ​reduced​ ​access​ ​to​ ​a​ ​Web resource​ ​with​ ​information​ ​on​ ​climate​ ​change​ ​and​ ​human​ ​health​ ​across​ ​several webpages.​ ​On​ ​the​ ​Global​ ​Environmental​ ​Health​ ​pages,​ ​the​ ​term​ ​“climate​ ​change”​ ​has been​ ​changed​ ​to​ ​“climate”​ ​on​ ​side​ ​menus​ ​and​ ​page​ ​titles.​ ​Links​ ​to​ ​an​ ​educational fact​ ​sheet​ ​about​ ​climate​ ​change​ ​were​ ​removed,​ ​reducing​ ​access​ ​to​ ​the​ ​resource.


16) Changes to the Department of Energy’s Office of Technology Transitions Website (screenshots)

Department of Energy (DOE) | Report written: May 20, 2017 | The DOE’s Office of Technology Transitions’ (OTT) Clean Energy Investment Center page has been updated to entirely remove the phrase “clean energy.” The Center’s name was changed from “Clean Energy Investment Center” to “Energy Investor Center” and links to pages on clean energy resources were removed from the OTT website.


 

15) Confirmation of Changes to Department of the Interior’s Climate Change Page (screenshots)

Department of the Interior (DOI) | Report written: April 28, 2017 |The DOI made changes to its climate change page, removing and re-writing descriptive paragraphs and entire sections on the DOI’s role in addressing climate change.


 

14) Changes to DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy Bioenergy Technologies Office Web Pages (screenshots)

13) Changes to DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy Vehicle Technologies Office Web Pages (screenshots)

12) Changes to DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy Wind Energy Technologies Office Web Pages (screenshots)

Note: Reports 12-14 were co-released

Department of Energy (DOE) | Reports written: April 19, 2017 | DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy (EERE) has made extensive changes to pages pertaining to the Bioenergy Technologies Office, Wind Energy Technologies Office and Vehicles Technologies Office. Stated office priorities were changed to decrease emphasis on renewable fuels as a replacement for fossil fuels and increase emphasis on US jobs and economic growth.

 


 

11) Rewording of Language, Domain Names, and Titles on the Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration Environment Pages (screenshots)

Department of Transportation (DOT) | Report written: April 13, 2017 | The DOT’s Federal Highway Administration ​(FHWA) has changed language and titles across multiple pages relating to environmental effects of transportation, such as replacing “climate change” and “greenhouse gases” with terms like “sustainability” and “emissions”.


 

10) Removal and Change of Language and Content on the Government Accountability Office’s Explanation of Risk in the Management of Federal Oil and Gas Resources (screenshots)

Government Accountability Office (GAO) | Report written: April 4, 2017 | The GAO page on managing federal oil and gas resources has been edited to change the framework within which natural gas production is discussed. Content on the environmental and public health risks of shale oil and natural gas production was also removed.


 

9) Change of Language and Content for the EPA’s Climate Ready Water Utilities Program and Web Page (screenshots)

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) | Report written: March 28, 2017 | The EPA’s Climate Ready Water Utilities program was renamed to Creating Resilient Water Utilities. This change was reflected on the program’s page – all mentions of the word “climate” were removed and terms like “extreme weather” and “resilience” were emphasized.


 

8) Changes to Office of Science and Technology Policy Mission Statement (screenshots)

White House (WH) | Report written: March 22, 2017 | The description and mission statement of the WH’s Office of Science and Technology policy was changed, and major site reorganization occurred.


 

7) Removal of Language and Links on the Bureau of Land Management’s Hydraulic Fracturing and Methane Rules (screenshots)

Department of the Interior (DOI) | Reports written: February 13, 2017 | The DOI’s Bureau of Land Management’s language about the purpose of the 2015 Hydraulic Fracturing Rule and a link to that rule from a page on regulations for onshore energy production were removed. Additionally, a section on, and link to, the proposed Methane Waste Prevention Rule was removed.


 

6) Changes to the State Department’s Office of Global Change Description (screenshots)

Department of State | Report written: February 10, 2017 (Updated: April 12, 2017) | The description paragraph for the Office of Global Change has been significantly changed. In particular, the terms “adaptation” and “sustainable landscapes” have been added, while the term “greenhouse gas” has been removed. Several links, including one to the Climate Action Report, were removed.


 

5) Changes to DOE’s Energy Information Administration Kids Educational Pages (addendumscreenshots)

Department of Energy (DOE) | Reports written: February 8, 2017 | On the DOE’s Energy Information Administration (EIA) website, language and content on the Energy Kids educational pages describing environmental impacts of various energy sources has been changed and removed to downplay the harms of nonrenewable energy sources.


 

4) Changes to EPA’s Page About Office of Science and Technology within Office of Water (screenshots)

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) | Report written: January 31, 2017 | The description of the role of the Office of Water’s Office of Science and Technology, in the EPA, removed any mention of science, and replaced a mission of developing scientific foundations for protecting people with developing economically and technologically feasible industry performance standards.


 

3) Changes to the EPA’s Page on Federal Collaborations on Climate Change (screenshots)

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) | Reports written: January 29, 2017 | Links to and descriptions of environmental and climate change programs which establish collaborations with international, federal, interagency, and tribal partners were removed from the EPA’s Federal Partner Collaborations page.


 

2) Removal of the Department of Energy’s Climate Action Plan Page (screenshots)

1) Removal of the State Department’s Climate Action Reports and Changes in Climate Office Descriptions (screenshots)

Note: Reports 1 and 2 were co-released

Department of State and Department of Energy (DOE) | Reports written: January 26, 2017 | On the Department of State’s website, the descriptions of the Office of Global Change and the Office of the Special Envoy for Climate Change were changed. In addition, pages relating to climate change agreements, such as a page about the Climate Action Report, were removed. On the DOE’s website, the Climate Action Plan page was removed.

 


Disclaimer for all EDGI Reports: The information and images within the report are for general information purposes only. The scope of this report is limited to version monitoring information of publicly available websites. EDGI has no control over the nature, content, or sustained availability of the websites we monitor. While EDGI works to assure that the information in this report is correct, that information is subject to the limitations of version tracking software, and is provided “as is.” EDGI makes no representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied, about the completeness or reliability of this information, nor does EDGI intend to assess any agency or entity’s intentions or rationale for the demonstrated changes to any webpages or other online content that appear in this report. Do not rely on the information in this report as predictive, or ascribe intent not presented within the report. In no event will EDGI or any of its members be liable for the use or misuse of the information in this report. Please consult with an appropriately qualified expert if you require qualitative evaluation of or advice about the content of this report.