WatchDog TipSheet

Chevron Blocks Access by State Regulators to Gas Well Explosion Site

One worker was killed February 11, 2014, when a Chevron gas well exploded near Bobtown, Pennsylvania, and burned for five days.  But inspectors from the state's Department of Environmental Protection were stopped by Chevron from approaching the site — thus keeping them from seeing possible safety violations. The DEP acquiesced at the time, but later cited Chevron for nine violations at the site.

Texas Punishes San Antonio COG for Disclosing Oil/Gas Pollution

On April 4, 2014, the Alamo Area Council of Governments, the regional area which is supposed to control smog, released its study results — which suggested drilling in the Eagle Ford shale did indeed contribute a lot to smog. Days later, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, which had funded the study, cut AACOG's budget by 25 percent.

Peace Group Calls for NEPA Disclosure on Construction at Bangor Base

Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action wants higher courts to hear its argument that the Navy is required by the National Environmental Policy Act to disclose more information about the impacts of a nuclear submarine facility upgrade at the Kitsap-Bangor Naval Base in Washington state, especially the risk of explosion.

PHMSA Won't Disclose Restart Plan for Arkansas Pegasus Pipeline

Exxon had said it was planning to restart the aging pipeline — which was given to seam ruptures — by the end of March. But the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration has so far refused requests to make public the restart plan. Elizabeth Douglass wrote about PHMSA's secrecy in InsideClimate News. Photo: The Pegasus pipeline, exposed and suspended in Houston County, 7 miles NW of Crockett, TX, in May 2013. Credit: Safe Community Alliance.

OIRA Actually Makes Searching for Secret Meetings Easier

For years, under multiple administrations, White House officials have subverted open government by holding illegal "ex parte" meetings with special interests affected by agency rulemakings. The meetings are still secret but now they have made the existing online database of meetings and calls searchable by agency, sub-agency, date range, stage of rulemaking, and regulatory identifier. The catch? You can only search for meetings that happened AFTER April 1, 2014.

SEJ Objects to Illegal Military Police Treatment of Toledo Blade Journalists

In a strongly worded April 9, 2014, letter by SEJ Executive Director Beth Parke and SEJ WatchDog Project Director Joseph A. Davis, SEJ urged Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to apologize to the Toledo Blade and direct military employees not to let such illegal actions happen again: Blade journalists Jetta Fraser and Tyrel Linkhorn were detained March 28, 2014 by military police in a public area outside the Joint Systems Manufacturing Center in Lima, Ohio. Fraser was held in handcuffs, and military police threatened sexual violence against her.

Capitol Officials Call Reporter's Detention "Isolated", Apologize

U.S. Capitol officials apologized for the brief detention March 28, 2014, of BNA energy reporter Ari Natter, effectively conceding that such incidents should not occur. Apologies came from both Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Terry Gainer and Capitol Police Chief Kim C. Dine in separate e-mail responses to an April 8 letter of complaint  from SEJ.

UPDATE: Capitol Police Chief Responds to SEJ Letter

Capitol Police Chief Kim C. Dine responded April 10, 2014, to SEJ's letter complaining about the brief detention of BNA energy reporter Ari Natter on March 28. In an e-mail, Dine said: "some of the most important things we do is protect the rights of citizens to express  themselves and protect the freedom of the press as we go about our duties protecting and serving the legislative process."

UPDATE: SEJ "Condemns" Military Treatment of Blade Reporters

The Society of Environmental Journalists has written Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, condemning "in the strongest terms" the treatment of two Toledo Blade journalists March 28 by military police outside a Lima, Ohio, tank plant. The journalists were on public property when they were detained by military police. Photographer Jetta Fraser's camera was confiscated, even though she was taking pictures of what was in plain public view.

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