WatchDog TipSheet

LEPCs, SERCs, Should Aid Journos Covering Chem Threats. Does Yours?

Many local and state agencies, set up under a 1986 federal law to inform the public, are a great resource for stories at the local, state, and even national level. Some don't — often based on a fear that terrorists could use the information to harm people. Here's how to find yours.

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Citizens Group Says Libel Suit from Landfill Company Meant To Silence

Black Belt Citizens Fighting for Health and Justice says the landfill, which has accepted millions of pounds of coal ash from the 2008 Tennessee spill, violates their civil rights. The community surrounding the landfill is predominantly poor and African-American.

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Can House, Senate, Meld FOIA Bills In Politicized Election Year?

The Congressional Research Service has compiled a side-by-side analysis comparing the two bills. With only a few months of real work remaining in this volatile election year, it is not a sure thing that Congress will clear the legislation. Open-government groups on March 16, 2016, urged Obama to declare support for the legislation.

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Money Woes Weaken Media's Ability To Defend 1st Amendment: Editors

A survey of 66 top-level U.S. editors suggests that the media's ability to defend the First Amendment is wilting — and that lack of money is one of the problems. The survey was conducted by a partnership of Knight Foundation, the American Society of News Editors, the Associated Press Media Editors, and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.

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Do Arizona Journalists Have To Show Their Papers?

Access to legislatures is critical to journalistic coverage of government — at least if government is to be accountable and democratic. So it caused a stir when Arizona House Speaker David Gowan (R) banned reporters from the floor unless they passed extensive background checks.

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Oil Lobby Group Part of Government — Doesn't Have To Disclose

The Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission (IOGCC) lobbied successfully to pass and preserve the "Halliburton Loophole," which exempts the oil and gas industry from the law requiring disclosure of toxic fracking chemicals.

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High-Hazard Chem Plants — Can Secrecy Substitute for Safety?

Reflexive secrecy has been a hallmark of government efforts to deal with highly hazardous chemical facilities in recent decades. Another reminder of that secrecy came in an April 11, 2016, piece in Greenwire by Sam Pearson.  Photo: The fertilizer plant in West, Texas, that exploded in 2013, killing 15 people, by Shane Torgerson, courtesy of Wikipedia.

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