Empowering the Public through Greater Information

By Gina McCarthy

EPA recently marked a major milestone in our work to empower the public through greater transparency and information. Last month we released the first set of greenhouse gas (GHG) data from large facilities and suppliers across the country collected by our GHG Reporting program.

To make it easy to view the 2010 GHG data collected from more than 6,700 U.S. facilities and suppliers, EPA launched an online data publication tool. The interactive tool allows users to view and sort the data in a variety of ways, including by location, facility, or industrial sector. I encourage you to explore the tool and share your findings with friends using your favorite social media tools.

Judging by the response to the tool’s launch on Facebook, Twitter, and online, folks are already finding the tool helpful— the site has received over 1,000 Facebook “likes” and attracted more than 100,000 web visitors since its launch.

Our idea behind this tool is simple: it’s about increasing public participation in environmental protection. EPA knows that better information leads to a better informed public resulting in better environmental protection.

Communities can use this data to identify nearby sources of GHG pollution. Businesses can use this data to find cost- and fuel-saving opportunities. States and local government can use this data to inform policymaking. The financial sector can use this data to make more-informed investment decisions.

People are already analyzing and presenting the data in meaningful ways, including from state and local perspectives. Media outlets like The Chicago Tribune and Salt Lake Tribune have used the data to inform readers about GHG emissions from facilities in their community.

We will welcome your thoughts on how to improve the tool and look forward to the second year of data which will allow all of us to start tracking emissions trends.

About the author: Gina McCarthy is the Assistant Administrator for EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation.

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