The EPA plans to sunset its online archive
Source: The Verge
Come July, the EPA plans to retire the archive containing old news releases, policy changes, regulatory actions, and more. Those are important public resources, advocates say, but federal guidelines for maintaining public records still fall short when it comes to protecting digital assets.
“Web services is the language of the government now, [but] we’re not treating it with the same sort of respect that we are paper documents,” says Gretchen Gehrke, one of the co-founders of a group that initially came together to prevent the Trump administration from destroying environmental data. The group, called Environmental Data and Governance Initiative (EDGI), is still fighting for public access to resources like the EPA’s online archive.
The archive is the only comprehensive way that public information about agency policies, like fact sheets breaking down the impact of environmental legislation, and actions, like how the agency implements those laws, have been preserved, Gehrke says. That makes the archive vital for understanding how regulation and enforcement have changed over the years. It also shows how the agency’s understanding of an issue, like climate change, has evolved. And when the Trump administration deleted information about climate change on the EPA’s website, much of it could still be found on the archive. Besides that, Gehrke says the content should just be available on principle because it’s public information, paid for by taxpayer dollars.