- SEJ Publication Types:Visibility:
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.
At the Spills of National Significance (SONS) Draft Communications Strategy forum on June 8, and in a June 30 letter, SEJ urged SONS communicators to release data fully and promptly, to acknowledge uncertainties and gaps, and to give journalists good access to officials, experts and places.
The Center for Biological Diversity filed a Freedom of Information Act request for documents on offshore Gulf fracking, and was refused by two Interior Department offshore drilling agencies, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management and the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement. CBD sued, and the lawsuit was settled June 2, 2015.
The watchdog group Center for Effective Government offers data tools that partly offset government failures to protect people from dangerous materials that poison or injure people, burn, or explode. They are also tools for journalists trying to inform their communities.
As Congress limps toward revisions of the badly broken Toxic Substances Control Act, it's clear that only a small fraction of the roughly 84,000 chemicals in commerce in the U.S. have actually been tested for health effects. Now an environmental health group has rated some household cleaning products firms.
You have to give the U.S. EPA some credit. The agency has done quite a bit to let the public know about some of the toxic chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing. EPA on March 27, 2015, published a database of nearly 700 of those chemicals, which is a good start and shows how open-source and non-governmental efforts can overcome industry efforts to hide data on toxics.