EJToday: Top Headlines
EJToday is SEJ's selection of new and outstanding stories on environmental topics in print and on the air, updated every weekday. SEJ also offers a free e-mailed digest of the day's EJToday postings, called SEJ-beat. SEJ members are subscribed automatically, but may opt out here. Non-members may subscribe here. EJToday is also available via RSS feed. Please see Editorial Guidelines for EJToday content.
Despite orders from the "incident commander" and denials by BP, press access to both federal and BP Gulf operations is still restricted. An HHS mobile clinic is surrounded by barbed wire, guarded by police, and declared off limits to reporters by federal "press officers" whose salaries are paid by your taxes.
Clean-looking sand is being dumped on the beaches of Grand Isle, and some of it is layered over asphalt-like oil residue, according to several reports based on photo and video documentation. But whether this is being done to fortify beaches or to hide oilspill damage is impossible to say -- because of a BP-Coast Guard media blackout threatening $40,000 fines to anyone who tries to get close enough to tell.
News media and activists for weeks have reported how federal and local officials have barred them from reporting the Gulf oil spill story from public beaches -- even though they have a legal right to be there. Now Mother Jones' Mac McClelland quotes the Terrebonn Parish Sheriff's office saying some 40 of the deputies enforcing BP'S illegal ban are being paid to work in uniform for BP during their off-duty hours.
A high-level seminar in Washington June 29 probed the apparent disconnect between scientific knowledge and public understanding, especially as it relates to climate change. The debate spilled over into the blogosphere.
A Pew Charitable Trusts workshop in the Netherlands Antilles in 2002 was supposed to be to train scientists in how to deal with the media. But did it amount to a junket that helped spin stories in a way that put out Pew's message on depleted fisheries?
Despite public statements of open media access to Gulf response operation by the Coast Guard and BP, local police are still prohibiting photography. They say BP directed them to do it.
"'Expert Credibility in Climate Change,' a new study in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, finds that 97-98% of climate researchers examined who are most actively publishing in the field support the IPCC conclusions, i.e., are convinced by the evidence for human-caused climate change, and that the relative climate expertise and scientific prominence of researchers questioning the findings is significantly below that of convinced researchers."
Promises from BP and the Coast Guard of improved news media access to Gulf spill operations have done little to curtail the obstacles and intimidations journalists face trying to cover the story. Now a top AP editor has asked White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs for help.
WDSU, the NBC affiliate in New Orleans (Channel 6) find that BP's highly publicized statement that it is not barring news media from witnessing the cleanup, or its failure, are in fact not true. Without any legal authority, BP "security" contractors aggressively seek to intimidate and drive away reporters trying to cover the spill and response on public beaches.
"Journalists struggling to document the impact of the oil rig explosion have repeatedly found themselves turned away from public areas affected by the spill, and not only by BP and its contractors, but by local law enforcement, the Coast Guard and government officials."
"U.S. EPA has quietly released a full list of ingredients in the two controversial dispersants BP PLC is using to combat the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, following weeks of complaints from members of Congress and public health advocates that the dispersant manufacturer had kept its complete formula a secret from the public."
"CHEYENNE, Wyo. — A state agency that oversees oil and gas development voted Tuesday to require energy companies to disclose what chemicals they're pumping underground to improve the flow of oil and gas into well bores."
"BP, the very company responsible for the oil spill that is already the worst in U.S. history, has purchased several phrases on search engines such as Google and Yahoo so that the first result that shows up directs information seekers to the company's official website."
Oil spill National Incident Commander Adm. Thad Allen has put out a written directive that news media have "uninhibited access" to spill response operations unless security or safety problems prevent it. It is not clear whether his order will have any impact on BP.
"If you happen to be wondering if it's any easier to get access to an oil-befouled public beach/wildlife refuge near Grand Isle, Louisiana, if you're teamed up with a fancypants PBS producer, I scouted out the answer today: No."