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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Thanks to the Federation of American Scientists' Project on Government Secrecy, we can share some recent CRS reports of interest to environmental journalists.
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.
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.
If you are an environmental reporter, it is only a matter of time before a reader asks you, "What's up with pentachlorophenol?" Or a grouchy editor demands to know, "What's the difference between trichloroethylene and trichloroethane?" Help is on the way. Read on.Topics on the Beat:
SEJ’s WatchDog Project director Joseph A. Davis analyzes local and regional media's role in reporting — or not — the Flint water debacle.SEJ Publication Types:Region:
Scientist Jonathan Lundgren (left), who has been researching the effects of neonicotinoid pesticides on Monarch butterflies, filed a whistleblower complaint and lost. And, Lundgren claimed his supervisors at the USDA's Agricultural Research Service told him not to talk to news media and punished him when he did.
Bad as it is, the Flint drinking water disaster is hardly uncommon. Even though the law requires authorities to tell the public of dangerous levels of lead in drinking water, they often don't.Topics on the Beat:Region:
Based on a variety of data sources, the Center for Effective Government's new map and database shows that "people of color and poor residents are significantly more likely to live near dangerous chemical facilities than white and non-poor residents" in the U.S.
The database, which covers a list of some 689 toxic chemicals, includes self-reported information about dangerous chemicals handled and released at industrial facilities during 2014, the latest year for which data is available. Companies reported the 2014 totals in mid-2015.