You — as an owner (one of 314 million) of the coal reserves on federal land — might want to know whether the Bureau of Land Management is getting a fair return for your property when it is sold to a coal company. Good luck with that. Certainly, there is a database of federal coal lease activity. It's just that you would have a really hard time getting to it.
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More evidence of Congress' ineffectiveness comes in its ongoing failure to keep its secrets actually secret. Its official policy is to keep the Congressional Research Service from publicly releasing the handy explainers it produces at taxpayer expense. Thanks again to the Federation of American Scientists' Government Secrecy Project for unauthorized publication of these reports.Topics on the Beat:
One of the oldest tricks U.S. industry has used to hide the potential harm to public health done by chemicals it puts into the environment is to claim that their identities are trade secrets via a loophole established under the antiquated Toxic Substance Control Act of 1976. On August 21st, a coalition of groups petitioned EPA for toxic trade secrets to have an expiration date.
Here are some recent explainers of interest to environmental journalists from the CRS, which Congress does not allow to be released to the taxpaying public who paid for them. The WatchDog thanks those who leaked them and the Federation of American Scientists' Project on Government Secrecy for publishing them.Topics on the Beat:
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Corporate lobby groups? Yeah, they can read it. Big campaign donors? They can read it, too. But can the news media and U.S. public read it? — No way! That would be un-American. Welcome to the secretly negotiated trade treaty known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
Much of the public discourse denying the science of climate change and the need to take action to slow it seems to be funded by shadowy oil companies and conservative billionaires funneling hundreds of millions of dollars secretly through dummy organizations, according to a new report.
The report documents the startling breadth of corporate spying on nonprofit groups that oppose corporate policies — especially environmental groups. Much of the spying is done by contractors using former government security agency employees — and some is done with complicity or help from the FBI or CIA.Topics on the Beat:
A New Jersey chemical company, Elementis Chromium, will have to pay a $2.6 million fine for failing to disclose information about the toxicity of hexavalent chromium to workers, in violation of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).