Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Gutting EPA libraries and access to research

Budget cuts are forcing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to cancel journal subscriptions.  From the October 9 press release of the Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility:

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is sharply reducing the number of technical journals and environmental publications to which its employees will have online access, according to agency e-mails released today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). This loss of online access compounds the effect of agency library closures, meaning that affected employees may not have access to either a hard copy or an electronic version of publications.

Citing budgetary shortfalls, cancellations of online subscriptions will be felt more sharply in some EPA offices and regions than others....

In addition to technical journals, EPA is also canceling its subscriptions to widely-read environmental news reports, such as Greenwire, The Clean Air Report and The Superfund Report, which summarize and synthesize breaking events and trends inside industry, government and academia. Greenwire, for example, recorded more than 125,000 hits from EPA staff last year.

As a result of these cuts, agency scientists and other technical specialists will no longer have ready access to materials that keep them abreast of developments within their fields. Moreover, enforcement staff, investigators and other professionals will have a harder time tracking new developments affecting their cases and projects.

“EPA’s professionals need current information in order to do their jobs, but with each passing month, even these basic tools are being put off limits,” stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch, whose organization has been drawing attention to EPA’s shuttering of its technical libraries. “EPA is entering its own Dark Age, where both the inward and outward flows of information are being strained through an ever-narrowing sieve.” ...

Comment. Just what we need in the face of global warming:  an under-informed agency leading the search for solutions in the nation most responsible for causing the problem. 

I wonder what percentage of the research to which the EPA no longer has access was funded by the EPA.  The agency provides OA abstracts to the research it funds, but doesn't yet require or even encourage OA to the full-texts.  Under FRPAA, however, the EPA would have to require OA to EPA-funded research.