In addition to nuisance smells, confined animal feeding operations (aka CAFOs) can present serious air and water pollution problems. They are weakly regulated. Now a federal appeals court says information on who owns those feedlots can be kept secret. Image: © Clipart.com.
Miami-Dade county had stiff-armed a request from the Herald for the information, and denied a FOIA request. The county claimed the information was exempt for public health reasons. Photo: © Clipart.com.
Should a federal agency be able to tell a science reporter whom they can — and can't — interview? The issue exploded in September with publication of a deeply reported piece on the "close-hold embargo" by Scientific American. Photo: © Clipart.com.
The Congressional Research Service produces expert nonpartisan backgrounders on many subjects of interest to environment and energy journalists. But Congress won't release them. Thanks to the Federation of American Scientists' Project on Government Secrecy, you can read them now.
A lawsuit over Wyoming's controversial "data trespass" law, which made it illegal to document pollution violations on "private open land", was settled in August without really resolving any of the important Constitutional issues behind it — and with both sides claiming victory.
A key issue on the Freedom of Information Act is once a government record is released to a single FOIA requester, should it then be automatically released to any other requester and the general public? "Yes" was the answer from most journalists surveyed by the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press — but with an important caveat. Image: © Clipart.com.
Press Secretary Josh Earnest (pictured) highlighted a few of the Obama administration's steps forward on openness in an Aug 30, 2016, letter to the New York Times. But transparent? Not so much, according to many journalists in the trenches, and a large number of news media and journalism groups who have asked for more from the White House and not heard back.
Data journalism is in again. Some new databases, including EPA's on beaches and USGS' on dam removals, can help environmental reporters find and investigate local stories.
Is text messaging compatible with open meetings? Courts have for several years upheld the notion that texts can be public records. The problem, of course, is knowing about them — since they are less visible than meeting minutes. Image: © Clipart.com.
Food industry groups generally liked the new rule, saying that it improved transparency. But consumer groups said it did not go far enough. Image: © Clipart.com.