The Congressional Research Service, a taxpayer-funded agency, produces a steady stream of fact-filled and objective background reports on many issues of interest to environment and energy reporters but refuses to share them with the public. But there are other ways to access them...
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The watchdog group Center for Effective Government offers data tools that partly offset government failures to protect people from dangerous materials that poison or injure people, burn, or explode. They are also tools for journalists trying to inform their communities.
Congress does not release reports done by the Congressional Research Service to the public, even though taxpayers fund them. Thanks to the Federation of American Scientists' Government Secrecy Project, you can read them anyway.Topics on the Beat:Region:
Since U.S. oil production started booming, the news has been full of tanker trains blowing up. Under a May 2014 emergency order, the Federal Railway Administration increased requirements that railroads disclose oil train routes. But a new regulation issued May 1, 2015, leaves the public — and firefighters — with less information about the risks they face. Photo: The latest oil train derailment and explosion, today, in ND/Curt Bemson via AP.Topics on the Beat:
In this, the second of two special SEJ TipSheets, the Advocate's Amy Wold provides you with a plethora of science-based information to cover the ongoing story of the Deepwater Horizon disaster, on the eve of the five-year anniversary. Photo: Officials assess sample processing and chain of custody protocol for handling specimens associated with the oil spill. Credit: NOAA.SEJ Publication Types:Topics on the Beat:
April 20, 2015, marks the fifth anniversary of the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, one of the largest environmental disasters in U.S. history. The story is far from over. If you are covering the legacy of the spill, SEJ is offering two special TipSheets by the Advocate's Amy Wold that will help you get the facts and background. Photo: Oiled endangered Ridley's turtle. Credit: Carolyn Cole/ LA Times; courtesy NOAA.SEJ Publication Types:Topics on the Beat:
There used to be a searchable, online database of oil and chemical spill reports that reporters could turn to in an emergency to get insight into important breaking news. But ham-handed security efforts have sabotaged the public's right to know. Right now, emergency responders are working on a spill of a cancer-causing fuel additive known as MTBE. But news reporters probably couldn't get much if any helpful information from the database today (we checked).
After opposing gag and sealing orders in the trial of former Massey coal CEO Don Blankenship on charges of conspiracy to violate federal mine safety and health standards — and cover-up — a news media coalition led by Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press won access to the trial from a federal appeals court March 5, 2015.Region:
After a judge refused to reverse most of the secrecy ruling around the 2010 Upper Big Branch mine disaster caused by Massey Energy's safety violations, including indictment of the company's former CEO, media outlets appealed. Now a coalition of many more media groups, led by the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, have filed a friend-of-the-court brief opposing the secrecy ruling as unconstitutional.Region:
After a February 16, 2015, oil train derailment and explosion in West Virginia, new concerns have arisen over the public's right to know about the dangers oil trains pose to communities. Now trackside communities have some data and maps to help them protect themselves. Image: AP Photo/ Office of the Governor of West Virginia, Steven Wayne Rotsch.