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EPA Eliminating Its Web Archive

Via Patrice McDermott, Government Information Watch, [h/t Mike Ravnitzsky] – “Come July 2022, the EPA plans to retire the archive containing old news releases, policy changes, regulatory actions, and more. The Verge reports – ‘The archive was never built to be a permanent repository of content, and maintaining the outdated site was no longer “cost effective,” the EPA said to The Verge in an emailed statement. The EPA announced the retirement early this year, after finishing an overhaul of its main website in 2021, but says that the decision was years in the making. The agency maintains that it’s abiding by federal rules for records management and that not all webpages qualify as official records that need to be preserved.

The EPA says it plans to migrate much of the information to other places. Old news releases will go to the current EPA website’s page for press releases. When it comes to the rest of the content, the EPA has a process for making case-by-case decisions on what content can be deleted — and what is relevant enough to move to the modern website. Some content might be deemed important enough to join the National Archives. The public will be able to request that content through the Freedom of Information Act.

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, [says Gretchen Gehrke, one of the co founders of a group called Environmental Data and Governance Initiative (EDGI) that’s fighting for public access to resources like the EPA’s online archives]. 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.’

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