October 23, 2013–This special issue of the WatchDog focuses on the transparency of safety information related to dams, levees, impoundments, and related water-control structures. For environmental journalists, these subjects offer a goldmine of great story possibilities. These are stories that have not been covered much in the past decade, and stories that fit well at the local, state, or regional level.
October 23, 2013–Tens of thousands of U.S. citizens are at risk from potential dam disasters, yet state and federal agencies hold to a policy that amounts to "out of sight, out of mind." The biggest danger, apparently, is that the public might find out about the dangers, and criticize insufficient dam safety measures, inconvenience private dam owners, depress real estate values, or demand public spending that is politically painful for those in office.
October 23, 2013–A key set of tools for reporters probing dam issues at any level, local to national, are the available databases on various kinds of dams, levees, and impoundments. The WatchDog in this issue presents a special "Reporters' Toolbox" on these data sets. We hope at least to help reporters find and access them.
October 9, 2013–When the Oregon government refused to tell her about oil trains, Eugene Weekly environment reporter Camilla Mortensen (pictured) learned about them from a train-hopping local cinematographer. Now you can roam the freight yards with your camera and know what you are looking at. And/or download the UN Number app.
September 25, 2013–In 2010, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) required publicly traded companies to disclose to their stockholders (and the public) what business risks they might face from climate change. Almost three-quarters of the companies are still ignoring the rule, and their shareholders are flying blind.
August 28, 2013–A Dallas Morning News investigation published August 24, 2013, found that nine times out of ten, government information about chemical safety was wrong or missing. It's a story of government's incompetence at keeping the public safe.
August 28, 2013–See the list of US nuclear facilities that could be endangered by dam failure, thanks to a document that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission does not want to release, made public by the Huffington Post. Watchdog group Public Employees for Environmental Responsiblity filed suit August 15, 2013, under the FOIA to force the NRC to disclose more of what it knows.
August 28, 2013–Remember that March 29, 2013, oil pipeline spill that slimed a major piece of Mayflower, Arkansas? Well we now learn that neither Mayflower residents nor the US public are allowed to know how Exxon planned to clean up such a spill.
August 14, 2013–The system for informing Americans about the threats to their health and safety posed by chemical plants is seriously broken, a Reuters investigation revealed August 10, 2013. Facilities often misidentify chemicals or their location, or fail to report the existence of the substances. But there are tools to help reporters.
July 31, 2013–Journalists who worried about a cover-up during the April 2010 blowout of BP's Deepwater Horizon drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico got some vindication this month when Halliburton admitted to destroying evidence. The company agreed to pay $200,000 in fines and donate $55 million to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.