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.
- SEJ Publication Types:Topics on the Beat:Region:Visibility:
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.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's openness has been a major issue throughout the crisis of contaminated drinking water in Flint, which has caused lead poisoning of some children. One aspect of the openness issue is the ability of agency employees to speak with journalists; another is unfulfilled FOIA requests.Topics on the Beat:Region:
If the water coming from your tap is unfit to drink, you have a right to know. But the crisis in Flint, Michigan, is challenging that assumption. Meanwhile, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (pictured) apologized to the residents of Flint, and "pledged to promptly release his emails about the issue," according to the New York Times.Region:
- SEJ Publication Types:
Here are some reports of possible interest to environmental journalists from the Congressional Research Service (CRS). Congress does not release them to the public, but the Union of Concerned Scientists' Government Secrecy Project does.Topics on the Beat:
A disturbing story of poor chemical company compliance with environmental and safety rules was released October 22, 2015, by a watchdog group. It could have — and perhaps should have — been done by a news publication. And it shows the use journalists could make of several key databases.
Administrator Gina McCarthy revealed October 22, 2015, that the U.S. EPA intends to add some natural gas processing facilities to the Toxics Release Inventory, a searchable online database of many of the largest discharges of toxic substances to air, water, and land — and a key tool for environmental journalists.
Whether pesticides harm the birds and bees — or human health — matters a lot. One of the public's protections is the requirement for disclosure in the nation's pesticide laws. Three groups, represented by Earthjustice, argue that EPA has authority under current federal pesticide law to require disclosure of inert ingredients.