November 28, 2012–President Obama on November 27, 2012, signed into law a bill beefing up previously flimsy protections for federal employee whistleblowers who disclose waste, fraud, and abuse. The legislation was supported by good-government watchdog groups.
November 14, 2012–In September, South Dakota meat processor Beef Products, Inc., had sued ABC, some of its anchors and correspondents, and a USDA microbiologist under South Dakota law for reporting on the controversial meat filler. The company said it would oppose the October 31st motion to dismiss.
November 14, 2012–Whistleblowers are key sources for investigative journalists. The bill, approved by unanimous consent in the House and Senate, was hailed by watchdog groups Government Accountability Project and Project on Government Oversight, who had fought for its passage.
October 31, 2012–Fifteen environmental and public health groups say EPA had not allowed sufficient time for public review, only put relevant information into its docket at the last minute, and emphasized easing a "burden" utilities had lived with for years at the expense of protecting the public.
October 31, 2012–Watchdog group Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility's new guide to state whistleblower laws starts with a map — click on any state to link to its whistleblower law and other related info. Federally, there is currently a bill in play in Congress which would strengthen the notoriously weak federal whistleblower protections.
October 17, 2012–NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service is considering a rule which could restrict public access to important data on commercial fishing — and overfishing. This data includes federally required public records paid for by taxpayers. The watchdog group OMB Watch criticized the proposed rule's handling of confidential information
October 3, 2012–Some utilities want to get rid of the requirement — substituting online notification, even for water customers who lack Internet connections. A legislative effort to ease the notification requirement failed in the Senate in summer 2012. Now EPA is starting procedures which might lead to doing the same thing by rulemaking. Deadline for comments is October 11, 2012.
September 19, 2012–Beef Products Inc. filed suit for defamation over stories about its 'finely textured beef' product, known to headline writers as 'pink slime.' Legal experts say the company will have a hard time winning the case, which harkens back to the famous hamburger libel case of the late 1990s, in which Oprah Winfrey won the right to dislike beef in public.
August 22, 2012–There are well over a thousand binational or multinational environmental agreements, usually technical and obscure. However, environmental reporters would do well to know about them — to shed light on local stories and to find national or international news. Here's help.
August 8, 2012–Topics of the latest reports, published by the Federation of American Scientists, include Arctic changes, mountaintop mining controversies, pollution control law enforcement, climate change, midnight rulemaking, scientific papers/security risks, oil sands enviro issues, and fracking/drinking water.