WatchDog TipSheet

Secret Reports to Congress — Revealed for Environmental Reporters

New expert background reports of interest to environmental journalists and the public have been published by the Federation of American Scientists Project on Government Secrecy.

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Feds Open Unclassified Spy Satellite Data on Arctic to Public

The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, which runs satellites collecting geodata both classified and unclassified, has put up a new Web page with Arctic information. It just went up, and it's as little geeky, but it shows promise for longer-term utility.

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Settlement Sets Disclosure on Decade-old Gulf Oil Leak

You'd think there shouldn't be such a thing as a secret oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Earlier this year, the Associated Press uncovered an offshore well in the Gulf that had been leaking for a decade. Now — thanks to a lawsuit from environmentalists — the details will be revealed.

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Food Safety Group Sues Ag Department for FOIA'd Records on GMO Crops

The Center for Food Safety has sued the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service under the Freedom of Information Act for withholding information on genetically modified crops (GMOs), after unsuccessfully seeking information over a period of 13 years.

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CAMEO Still Making Appearance as First Responders Face Hazmats

CAMEO is a free and publicly available suite of applications useful to reporters. Developed by the U.S. EPA and NOAA, it includes information about the hazards of various chemicals, as well as map overlays that may show how close a spill site is to the nearest facility of interest, such as a nursery school or retirement home.

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State Judge Orders Disclosure of Maryland Oil Train Data

A Maryland state judge this month ordered a state agency to give news media routing information about oil trains within Maryland — adding momentum to efforts to warn firefighters and communities about dangers they face. Photo: 2013 Lac Megantic, Quebec, disaster, by Elias Schewel/Flickr.

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Lustgarten Says Data on Who Gets Ag Subsidies Is Rare as Hens' Teeth

Abrahm Lustgarten (left) wrote a nine-part series delving into farm subsidies and water policy. But his efforts to get the actual names of farm subsidy recipients or individual water users were largely thwarted. Read how info flows less quickly to the public than money and water flow to farmers in SPJ's FOI blog. Photo credit: Lars Klove.

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Still Interested? Some Feds Hope You Will Give Up on FOIA Requests

Federal agencies sometimes wait years to respond to Freedom of Information Act requests, then ask if they are still interested in receiving the requested information. Now the Justice Department's Office of Information Policy has issued an official "guidance" that frowns slightly on overuse of the "still interested?" practice.

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