The Senate Judiciary Committee on September 12, 2013, approved a bill shielding journalists from being compelled to reveal their confidential sources. Its prospects for enactment look iffy in a Congress noted for gridlock. The panel approved the bill (S 987, titled "The Free Flow of Information Act of 2013) by a 13-5 vote.
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SEJ complained in an August 7 letter to CHP that the arrest of Willits News photog Steven Eberhard for attempting to document a protest was a violation of constitutionally guaranteed freedom of the press. CHP responded August 28, noting that its policies for news media access to the Willits highway bypass construction site had changed. However, several assertions in the letter are not true, according to Eberhard and a video of the incident. © Photo by Steve Eberhard: CHP arrests demonstrators Sept. 10, 2013, at the Willits, Calif., bypass construction site.Region:
John Platt, author of Scientific American's Extinction Countdown blog, offers up a great list of things that may help environmental journalists illuminate some of the issues in question as the Act prepares for its second 40 years. Photo: A California condor outfitted with tracking tags, courtesy USFWS.SEJ Publication Types:
Can a federal employee who discloses lax safety inspections of gas pipelines or terminals be fired? That might be the case under a new federal appeals court decision that limits the whistleblower protections for federal employees who disclose "sensitive," but noncritical national security information.
The system for informing Americans about the threats to their health and safety posed by chemical plants is seriously broken, a Reuters investigation revealed August 10, 2013. Facilities often misidentify chemicals or their location, or fail to report the existence of the substances. But there are tools to help reporters.
In this issue: ESA at 40 — 40 things journalists should know; tangled tale of the endangered wolf; SEJ resources for busy enviro journalists; how one freelancer supports a travel addiction; five book reviews; IJNR institute inspires journalists; watershed tipsheet; and SEJ's 2012 individuals donor list.SEJ Publication Types:
Award-winning photojournalist George Steinmetz was arrested June 28, 2013, after flying a motorized paraglider over a cattle feedlot in Finney County, Kansas, while on assignment for National Geographic magazine.Region:
If you are looking for yet another category of environmental information that the U.S. public is not allowed to know about, try international trade agreements. A recent court decision — one that got little attention from the news media — upheld the federal government's authority to keep secret some information about the health and environmental impacts of trade treaties.
Exxon claims trade secrecy in its bid to hide inspection results for the pipeline that leaked 5,000 barrels of Canadian oil sands crude in Arkansas last spring, spurring debate over transparency and spill readiness. EnergyWire's Elana Schor has the story, raising questions that have still to be answered.
The revised proposal still allows companies to claim trade secrecy on chemicals in fracking fluid — and to fulfill disclosure requirements on the remainder by submitting them to the controversial FracFocus database, run by the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission and the Groundwater Protection Council.