More evidence of Congress' ineffectiveness comes in its ongoing failure to keep its secrets actually secret. Its official policy is to keep the Congressional Research Service from publicly releasing the handy explainers it produces at taxpayer expense. Thanks again to the Federation of American Scientists' Government Secrecy Project for unauthorized publication of these reports.
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In this issue: Covering the environment, health fallout of unexploded ordnance; special report on risk and resilience/lessons from Louisiana on the realities of coastal iving; freelancers and fellowships, a path for growth; utilizing the National Weather Service to track storm intensity; tapping the environmental journalism 'power grid'; book reviews; and classroom research on long-term relevance of front-page stories.SEJ Publication Types:
The federal government has not only done very little to protect the public from the mass-casualty threats chemical facilities present to neighboring communities, they've focused efforts on keeping the public from knowing about those threats or the government's own failures to keep them safe. Now the U.S. EPA has signaled that it is about to revise a key rule governing chemical facility safety and security.
The National Bridge Inventory is a data tool that environmental and energy reporters can use to make their beat relevant to a wider audience. Compiled by the Federal Highway Administration, it can provide leads on stories like the use of federal highway funds, poor bridge maintenance, and even the pollution of water bodies with lead paint.
It's not like you can't figure these things out. Trains full of explosive crude oil, for example, may be obvious as a string of 100-odd identical black tankers rolls through populated areas. The number on the DOT-required diamond-shaped flammability placard on each car probably has the number 1257 on it. But it's not just crude oil that's an issue.
Should firefighters and residents know whether trains loaded with explosive oil are routed through the heart of residential districts? Many railroads say no, claiming it is a security issue. But on June 18, 2014, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) dismissed that claim, saying that oil train routing was not sensitive security information. Yet the railroads are fighting back.
Local reporters can find information about coal-ash situations in their own areas using a newly improved database compiled by the Environmental Integrity Project which goes well beyond anything previously available because it includes large amounts of painstaking research by EIP. The site is important for its focus on contamination of groundwater that people may drink by the toxic heavy metals in coal combustion wastes.
ExxonMobil lost a bid to keep federal regulators and prosecutors from getting records which might show criminal negligence in its operation of the pipeline that spilled oil into the Arkansas community of Mayflower in March 2013. The judge also threw out Exxon's motion to dismiss a lawsuit against the company.
From 1970 until 2010, 34.8 million more people decided to move towards the coast of the United States and that population is expected to grow just as sea-level rise and climate change continue to increase the risk of living there. Amy Wold, a reporter with The Advocate in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, covers change and adaptation; locks and floodgates; levees and marshes; communities at risk; insurance issues; and lessons learned. Photo (click to enlarge): In 2012, Wold took this shot of the rapidly disappearing Cat Island in Barataria Basin in south Louisiana. She returned there in 2014 to find barely any land left above water. © Amy Wold, The (Baton Rouge) Advocate.SEJ Publication Types:
As 100-car trains of explosive crude oil snake through U.S. cities and river gorges, the railroad industry continues to tell the public they are being kept secret from terrorists. But now a series of articles by Rob Davis for the The (Portland) Oregonian seems to have caught the railroads and the feds in their own contradictions.