WatchDog TipSheet

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.

Appeals Court Radically Expands FOIA 'Safety' Exemption

A federal appeals court created a sweeping and dangerous precedent January 22, 2014, when it ruled the U.S. public had no right to know whether it is endangered by failures of federal dam safety agencies to do their jobs. If the ruling stands, federal agencies could withhold from disclosure almost any information showing federal failure to protect the public from infrastructure dangers.

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