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.
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A landmark Supreme Court decision awarded Port Townsend residents the right to know about the potential location of explosives on the Indian Island Naval Magazine near their town. After losing the case, the Defense Department bolstered its legal grounds for secrecy by asking Congress to slip into the 2012 Defense Authorization an amendment creating a new statutory exemption to FOIA for the DOD.Region:
A federal judge ruled that once the documents — depositions of US Forest Service employees about a 2007 forest fire in California that burned tens of thousands of acres — had been entered into court records as part of the evidence discovery process, they were presumptively public records and had to remain that way.Region:
Internal BP corporate memos dating back to the April 2010 Deepwater Horizon blowout show that the company was concerned about a spill rate much higher than what it publicly estimated at the time. The memos were released as part of federal court proceedings.Topics on the Beat:
The e-mail pressuring agency scientists was written by USGS Director Marcia McNutt, and was never meant to be made public. Against strong agency resistance, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility forced disclosure of the e-mail with a Freedom-of-Information-Act lawsuit.
CDC's Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry has been investigating a Navy cover-up of cancer-causing drinking water at its Lejeune, NC, base. Now, Project on Government Oversight has released a January 5, 2012, letter from Marine Major General J.A. Kessler asking ATSDR to redact its report in the name of "force protection."
Snow cover has many implications, from ski resorts short on snow and farmers who rely on snowmelt for irrigation to firefighters and residents battling major fires in unusual locations in the middle of winter and smothering blizzards in areas at the other end of the extreme snow spectrum this year.SEJ Publication Types:
Climate scientist Michael Mann wins bid to join emails lawsuit; BP and other Gulf oil spill CEOs won't testify before House committee; Republican House freshmen disappointed by Supercommittee's secrecy; Obama admin to issue disclosure rules for fracking on federal lands; WRI/Transparency Int'l panel on climate policy corruption, Nov. 3, 2011, in DC; proposed FOIA rule would let gov't deny existence of records; and bill to improve pipeline safety and increase access to info passes Senate.
Levees have huge environmental and human impacts, but are often neglected by news media until disaster strikes. The NLD should make reporting both routine and crisis stories a lot easier. The bad news is that after several years of work by the Corps, only a small fraction of all the levees in the US have been entered into the database.