Claims of trade secrecy — often unsubstantiated — are a huge barrier to environmental reporters and others trying to find the truth about chemicals that may harm human health and the environment. But the FBI's billboards urge Americans to be vigilant against corporate insiders who may appear suspicious, and presumably to turn them in.
- SEJ Publication Types:Visibility:
The Ohio legislature cleared a fracking bill May 24, 2012 that increases inspections of wells and requires drillers to hold liability insurance. But Reuters reports: "Many Democrats said the bill paves the way for the industry to hide information about toxic chemicals that could contaminate groundwater."Topics on the Beat:Region:
A Chicago Tribune investigative series on flame retardant chemicals helps illustrate how federal agency control of what scientists say to reporters can help the chemical and tobacco industries. By reporter Michael Hawthorne.Topics on the Beat:
After backroom lobbying by gas and oil industry groups, the Obama White House watered down the promised fracking-fluid disclosure requirement promised earlier this year — imposing it only after completion of the fracking operation, when the information may have little effect (such as public pressure on BLM to deny a drilling permit).
If you have a fracking story in your beat, getting information about what's in the controversial fracking fluids may be like pulling teeth. But there are a few resources that can help, such as the "FracFocus" chemical disclosure registry.Topics on the Beat:
The Right-To-Know Network has been around since 1989. Today, with a modern and searchable Web interface, it offers access to some data that reporters would be hard put to find anywhere else. Most important is its collection of Risk Management Plans — which chemical plants are required to maintain to prevent, prepare for, and respond to toxic disasters.
On December 27, 2012, EPA submitted to the Office of Management and Budget its proposal to alter the interpretation of the Toxic Substances Control Act to require disclosure of the identities of the chemicals subject to health-effects studies before they are used in manufactured products. On January 20, 2012, a secret meeting took place between OMB officials and chemical industry lobbyists. We don't know what they talked about, but we do know that the meeting took place and who attended it.
- SEJ Publication Types:Region:
Here, courtesy of the Federation of American Scientists, are some recent Congressional Research Service backgrounders that may be useful to environment/energy reporters, on chemical facility security, nuclear power plant design and seismic safety considerations, and proposed Keystone XL pipeline legal issues.
Most current fracking operations happen on non-federal lands. But on federal lands, things are different — Obama intends to require disclosure of fluids as a condition of new leases for fracking on federal lands. If it takes place, this could push the ingredient lists further into the open.Region: