We've said it before: the environment is the Saudi Arabia of data. This has long been good news for environmental journalists who want to build compelling data-driven stories. The only problem is that there's so much data that it can be overwhelming.
Now comes some help from U.S. EPA — which since the first Toxics Release Inventory in 1987 has been a leader among federal agencies in the open data department. EPA has put online a "Data Finder" tool that simplifies finding and accessing data that may help you report your particular story.
The EPA Data Finder allows you to find datasets by searching in many dimensions: media (air, water), health risks, pollutants, and others. It has an easy browse feature, and links to even more datasets than does EPA's mainstream Envirofacts portal. If you are geeky, you might appreciate the fact that it subsumes a "Developer Forum." Most importantly, it links to a fairly large set of environmental databases at other agencies.