As part of our investigation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Civil Rights, we submitted a Freedom of Information Act request to the agency asking for complaint and resolution letters for every case of alleged environmental discrimination from the mid-1990s until the date the request was processed. The EPA did not respond to a follow-up request seeking documents from cases dating to 1993, when the office began processing environmental discrimination complaints.
The Center for Public Integrity cross-referenced the data received with that included in the EPA’s online database and found missing cases, inaccurate dates and other discrepancies. For example, in some instances, the Center received complaints with case numbers but the cases weren’t listed on the EPA website. In others, the EPA database showed cases as pending even though the Center had documents indicating they had been resolved. In still others, the EPA reported receiving cases days or weeks before they were actually filed.
The Center sought to standardize the data and make the records we received as accurate and complete as possible.