Here are the latest leaked explainers, written by the Congressional Research Service, that may be of use to environmental journalists.
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Many local and state agencies, set up under a 1986 federal law to inform the public, are a great resource for stories at the local, state, and even national level. Some don't — often based on a fear that terrorists could use the information to harm people. Here's how to find yours.
For environmental reporters, pipelines are a frequent source of major news stories. Enterprising journalists may want to find nearby pipelines before they leak or blow up. The National Pipeline Mapping System is a basic tool that can help.
Reflexive secrecy has been a hallmark of government efforts to deal with highly hazardous chemical facilities in recent decades. Another reminder of that secrecy came in an April 11, 2016, piece in Greenwire by Sam Pearson. Photo: The fertilizer plant in West, Texas, that exploded in 2013, killing 15 people, by Shane Torgerson, courtesy of Wikipedia.
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."
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.