The Project on Government Oversight FOIA'd FEMA/DHS in 2006 for documents that might reveal hanky-panky with billions of dollars in Hurricane Katrina recovery contracts. In December 2015, DHS finally wrote POGO to say that disclosing the records would constitute an "unwarranted invasion of privacy."
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Maine passed a law in 2015 that allowed railroads to keep oil-train routing information from the public — over the governor's veto. In the Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting's Pine Tree Watchdog, Dave Sherwood reports how the provision was a bait-and-switch.Topics on the Beat:Region:
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.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:
IRE/NICAR's Liz Lucas and Andrew Kreighbaum provide a plethora of tips for using the NID database to cover infrastructure or breaking news involving one of the nation's >85,000 dams.SEJ Publication Types:
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.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has for years suppressed full disclosure of the National Inventory of Dams, once a key tool for journalists reporting on dam safety — or the government's failure to ensure it. Now that tool is back in the toolbox ... mostly.Region:
Access to water quality data was an issue at one highly politicized House hearing on the August 5, 2015, toxic spill from a long-abandoned mine near Silverton, Colorado, where New Mexico Secretary of Environment Ryan Flynn accused EPA of refusing for weeks to share data on the quality of waters fouled by the spill.
You'd think there shouldn't be such a thing as a secret oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Earlier this year, the Associated Press uncovered an offshore well in the Gulf that had been leaking for a decade. Now — thanks to a lawsuit from environmentalists — the details will be revealed.Topics on the Beat:
CAMEO is a free and publicly available suite of applications useful to reporters. Developed by the U.S. EPA and NOAA, it includes information about the hazards of various chemicals, as well as map overlays that may show how close a spill site is to the nearest facility of interest, such as a nursery school or retirement home.