On April 4, 2014, the Alamo Area Council of Governments, the regional area which is supposed to control smog, released its study results — which suggested drilling in the Eagle Ford shale did indeed contribute a lot to smog. Days later, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, which had funded the study, cut AACOG's budget by 25 percent.
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The oil and gas industry is not currently required to report toxic emissions from certain smaller operations — such as wells — because they do not fit EPA's definition of a TRI "facility." Yet 14 groups, led by the Environmental Integrity Project, have compiled and released data showing that oil and gas extraction facilities in just six states emitted ~8.5 million tons of toxic chemicals yearly.
Environmental journalists may find a story by asking about the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of a nearby coal-burning power plant or major chemical refinery. A new online EPA database gives information about the largest GHG emitters, makes the query easier and the answers more accurate.
You may smell that stench from a feedlot near your home, but the farm lobby and some of your elected representatives in Congress don't think you have any right to know who is creating it. This year's Farm Bill could include the most sweeping censorship ever of public information on agricultural pollution and the identities of the corporations that profit from it.
Got scofflaw polluters in your audience area? Are they owned by political fat cats? Is EPA cutting them more slack than they deserve? Such questions are easier to answer thanks to a recent upgrade of the Environmental Protection Agency's ECHO database, a key tool for environmental investigative reporters.
A U.S. district judge on October 2, 2013, brushed aside claims by EPA and the Luminant Corp. that information related to pollution from the company's coal-burning power plants was "confidential business information" — which seems to be a growing excuse for withholding public-interest information.
The fracking industry loves to argue there's no proof its gas-extraction methods cause pollution. But it works hard in Pennsylvania to keep secret any evidence that might prove the question — one way or the other. Existence of its database was reported by Marie Cusick of WITF in Harrisburg, via NPR's StateImpact Pennsylvania.Region: