Wyoming's legislature calls it "data trespass." Really? The state in March 2015 made it illegal to collect and report information about stream pollution or other environmental harm — when it involves entering private land. One independent publication invited its readers to collect and post such potentially illegal photos.
The nonprofit SkyTruth, an innovator in applying map technology to environmental problems, offers an interactive version of an obscure federal database on abandoned coal mines. Also available, data from the Bureau of Land Management.
Administrator Gina McCarthy revealed October 22, 2015, that the U.S. EPA intends to add some natural gas processing facilities to the Toxics Release Inventory, a searchable online database of many of the largest discharges of toxic substances to air, water, and land — and a key tool for environmental journalists.
Investigations into emails are a hotter topic than ever. A new face-off between Congressional climate science deniers and the federal scientists who compile climate data is making headlines.
A war has broken out over academic emails — a war seemingly between academic freedom and the public's right to know. The smoking emails have prompted scandals galore, and produced stories. The issue got an airing in a plenary session October 9, 2015, at SEJ's Annual Conference. The WatchDog has details.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has for years suppressed full disclosure of the National Inventory of Dams, once a key tool for journalists reporting on dam safety — or the government's failure to ensure it. Now that tool is back in the toolbox ... mostly.
Several data resources can help journalists who want to develop stories about still-hazardous sites in their locality or region, including EPA's National Priorities List, CERCLIS database and state agencies.
Access to water quality data was an issue at one highly politicized House hearing on the August 5, 2015, toxic spill from a long-abandoned mine near Silverton, Colorado, where New Mexico Secretary of Environment Ryan Flynn accused EPA of refusing for weeks to share data on the quality of waters fouled by the spill.
Whether pesticides harm the birds and bees — or human health — matters a lot. One of the public's protections is the requirement for disclosure in the nation's pesticide laws. Three groups, represented by Earthjustice, argue that EPA has authority under current federal pesticide law to require disclosure of inert ingredients.
Disclosure issues have been in the news of late — especially the war over research on genetically modified organisms. Now journalist Sara Reardon, in Nature News & Comment, has taken a deep look at disclosure policies at the National Institutes of Health (NIH).