WatchDog TipSheet

J-Groups Seek Coalition To Address Press-Office Obstacles

Some major U.S. journalism organizations are increasingly fed up with federal public affairs offices acting "more like prison guards than gate-keepers." The latest outbreak of frustration was at a March 19, 2014, panel discussion at the National Press Club in Washington, DC. Read comments by panelists — who agreed that the situation would not get better without organized and creative pushback from journalists.

SEJ Asks "Who's in Charge?" at EPA

It was a crisis. Charleston, WV, residents had just been told not to drink city water because of a chemical spill upstream of its intake. It would seem routine to call the US EPA and ask for information or comment — and that's just what prize-winning Charleston Gazette reporter Ken Ward Jr. did. He waited a week for EPA to get back to him on the record. SEJ wants to know why such communication delays at EPA have become the norm.

Sunshine Week 2014: Hard Fight for Open Government Far from Won

Spin control and the security state may have taken large bites out of the First Amendment in recent years, but the pushback celebration known as Sunshine Week has never been more robust. Pushing for open government is a trend. Nowhere is this more true than on the environment and energy beats.

House Passes Bipartisan FOIA Improvement Bill

Don't polish your glasses — you read it right. Bipartisan. By a vote of 410-0. The bill makes several modest improvements in the Freedom of Information Act; it should strengthen the presumption in favor of disclosure of government records, authorize a central tracking system for FOIA requests and strengthen the role of the Office of Government Information Services.

Groups Urge TRI Reporting on Oil and Gas Extraction

The oil and gas industry is not currently required to report toxic emissions from certain smaller operations — such as wells — because they do not fit EPA's definition of a TRI "facility." Yet 14 groups, led by the Environmental Integrity Project, have compiled and released data showing that oil and gas extraction facilities in just six states emitted ~8.5 million tons of toxic chemicals yearly.

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